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    Scandal Involving Visas During the Tusk Administration: Allegations of Corruption and Child Trafficking

    Visas to Schengen countries like France, Denmark, and Germany were granted to individuals engaged in illegal activities and banned from entering these countries. Ukrainian citizens were forced to pay bribes to obtain visas. Ukrainian children were illegally transported across the border. These revelations were made by the journalists Grzegorz Wierzchołowski and Leszek Misiak of “Gazeta Polska” back in 2012.

    Below is the full text of the 2012 article:

    According to our findings, the practice of issuing visas for bribes may have affected thousands of cases, considering that the consulate in Łuck is the second-largest Polish consular office in Ukraine, second only to Lviv, and it brought in substantial revenue. The prosecution is handling the criminal activity, as confirmed by our sources. According to our informants, former secret police officers (SB officers) were in charge of this criminal operation at the consulate.

    Ukrainian Woman: They Wanted 400-500 Euros

    We reached out to a Ukrainian woman who had applied for a visa legally but was coerced into paying a bribe. She went to the consulate to obtain a visa based on an invitation from a Polish citizen. She claims that the invitation was registered with the Mazovian Voivodeship Office.

    She encountered difficulties right at the entrance. She was stopped by a BOR (Government Protection Bureau – ed.) officer who asked for her prepared documents, including the visa application. He then informed her that her invitation meant nothing, and she wouldn’t get a visa based on it, she recounts.

    He directed her to another door

    “With instructions to see ‘Mrs. Luda,’ who, according to him, would help me prepare the documents and obtain the visa. I went there. The conversation with me started with a sum of 400-500 euros. This was supposed to cover insurance, drawing up a contract, a visa questionnaire, and attaching a different invitation from Poland than the one I had, on the basis of which I would get a visa,” the distressed woman narrates.

    Our interviewee was told that the matter could be resolved within a day – the consul would receive the documents in the evening, and the visa would be ready the next morning. She did receive the visa, but she negotiated it down to 100 euros.

    Foreign Ministry Employee: Illegally Transporting Children

    As explained by an employee of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the scheme involved redirecting individuals who were honestly applying for visas to intermediaries. These intermediaries would convince them that they had made a mistake on their visa application or had improper insurance, etc. The intermediary would immediately inform them that, for the right amount, they could expedite the visa process. Visas based on fraudulent documents were processed after hours and were assigned to specific visa windows before regular office hours. Time was crucial for those illegally obtaining visas. The goal was to ensure that visa applications and documentation didn’t circulate within the consulate and didn’t reach an honest official.

    Documents were prepared at night and delivered to trusted individuals at specific visa windows. They weren’t only dealing with visas; they were also selling Polish Citizen Cards for 700 euros. You could find ads around the city and on Facebook. They also facilitated visas (based on fictitious invitations) that were allocated for free – for sports and cultural events, our informant reveals.

    To keep the business going, fake documents from tourist agencies and private businesses in Poland and Ukraine were supplied as the basis for obtaining visas and issuing vouchers, which Ukrainians used to travel to France, Spain, Germany, Denmark, and others.

    “The Polish inviting companies came from various regions of our country, including the south, from Żywiec and Bielsko-Biała. Ukrainian newspapers and billboards in Łuck had ads: ‘Schengen visas for 500-700 euros, I’ll arrange it,’ when they normally cost 35 euros,” says our MSZ informant. He assures us that the consulate also issued visa packages, such as seven children and one adult.

    There was no consent from the parents of these children to send them abroad, even though they were under ten years old. This is very strange and may raise suspicions that it involves transporting children for illegal adoption. Prosecutors should investigate this,” our informant adds.

    As he explains, some window staff, Ukrainian nationals, were coerced into participating in the scheme. They were blackmailed, saying that if they refused, they would lose their jobs.

    “Visa applications are distributed to the visa windows by, among others, the head of the consulate administration in Łuck. It would be worthwhile for prosecutors to ask him if he has heard about the illegal benefits from visa trading. Maybe some information reached his wife, who is the secretary of Minister Radosław Sikorski, or to the personnel department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where one of the clerks apparently knows about the matter?” our source says.

    Prosecution: Details Will Not Be Disclosed

    The scandal at the consulate in Łuck, Ukraine, erupted in 2011, and Border Guard officers uncovered it. Information about it reached the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau, and the prosecution. The investigation is being conducted by the District Prosecutor’s Office in Bielsko-Biała.

    “Due to the good of the ongoing investigation, the details of the inquiry will not be disclosed,” said Małgorzata Borkowska, Deputy District Prosecutor in Bielsko-Biała. She admitted that her prosecutor’s office supervises the investigation initiated on January 12, 2011, regarding the “organization of Ukrainian citizens, contrary to the provisions of the law, crossing the Polish border by using fraudulently obtained visa documents.”

    The investigation in this case was initiated on November 18, 2010, by the Border Guard unit in Żywiec.

    “As part of this investigation, the correctness of issuing Schengen tourist visas at the Consulate of the Republic of Poland in Łuck based on documents issued by Polish tourist agencies and hotels is also being clarified,” Borkowska wrote.

    So far, charges have been brought against five suspects – hotel owners and businesses. They are accused of certifying false information on VAT invoices and vouchers confirming hotel reservations, “which served as the basis for obtaining false documents in the form of Schengen visas as tourist visas.” This allegedly allowed hundreds of people to enter Schengen countries and cross the Polish border.

    According to “GP” information, the investigation that began in early 2011 has gained momentum and now includes consulate staff. The organizers of the scheme were apparently located in the Łuck consulate.

    MSZ and CBA Concealing the Scandal?

    In connection with the scandal in Łuck, CBA conducted two controls. The first in March 2012 was combined with the Border Guard’s control. In the next inspection, a few weeks later, representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Government Protection Bureau (BOR) also arrived. BOR is responsible for consulate security, and officers from this service are allegedly involved in the scheme, according to one of the officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    “Unfortunately, the inspectors did not find the head of the visa section, Sylwester Szostak, because he was away. During the first CBA inspection, he was also absent. It’s a shame because he would have been of help, just like the highly experienced consul with years of diplomatic service, Jerzy Zimny,” he adds. He says that the affair is widely discussed at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “it’s buzzing in the hallways.”

    Sylwester Szostak is indeed an experienced diplomat, dating back to the times of the People’s Republic of Poland (PRL). He was featured in “GP” in June 2005 in an article titled “Comrade Diplomats.”

    “From the diaries of the founder and longtime president of the Association of Poles in Belarus, Tadeusz Gawin, it follows that Sylwester Szostak, the Consul General in Grodno, worked as diligently as the Belarusian services on depoliticizing the Polish organization, i.e., distancing it from the opposition. While the Poles invited members of parliament to meetings, Szostak advised Polish politicians not to come because they would expose themselves to being present at a political demonstration with banners and slogans of the Belarusian opposition. The consul, like the authorities in Minsk, opposed Polish efforts to build a Polish school in Novogrudok. (…) Gawin’s successor, supported by Consul Szostak, was Tadeusz Kruczkowski. Pro-Russian and completely subservient to the authorities in Minsk.”

    It’s interesting that CBA, in response to “GP’s” questions regarding inspections in Łuck and identified irregularities, denied that they had taken place. CBA spokesperson Jacek Dobrzyński responded via email: “I kindly inform you that the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau did not conduct inspections related to the matter in question, as referred to by the editorial office.”

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also didn’t acknowledge the scandal’s discovery at the Łuck consulate. Marcin Bosacki, MSZ spokesperson, answered our questions evasively, withholding the fact that a scandal had been uncovered (MSZ’s responses to our questions are included below). However, our informants have no doubt that CBA and MSZ conducted inspections in Łuck. According to our sources within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a special interdepartmental group was set up nearly two months ago to investigate the affair, comprising representatives from MSZ, CBA, Border Guard, and the prosecution.

    We have contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs again to verify whether the responses given to “GP” earlier are still valid and whether any irregularities were discovered at the Łuck consulate in the last two years (and if so, what they were). Marcin Bosacki replied: “We kindly inform you that we maintain the answers previously provided.” It raises questions about how a criminal operation could have escaped the attention of the ABW counterintelligence.

    “Such actions may mean that individuals involved in criminal activities at the Łuck consulate have protection from the PO-PSL government,” says our informant.

    Consulate – A Haven for Prostitutes

    Our informant presents shocking facts. He claims that in January of this year, the Spanish police approached representatives of the Polish police in Kyiv, requesting visa applications for women forced into prostitution in their country. The Spanish authorities wanted to verify whether these visas were issued legally. It turned out that the visas were genuine, but the documents of the women were fake.

    The French Embassy in Kyiv contacted the Polish consulate in Łuck to inquire why visas were issued to Ukrainian women after being denied by France. These rejections were covered up with Polish visa stamps.

    The Danish Embassy in Kyiv also approached the Łuck consulate to inquire whether it was common practice to issue Schengen visas after other countries had rejected them.

    According to our informant, Łuck leads in the number of visas canceled by German immigration authorities. Ukrainian and German police are conducting an investigation related to the detention of individuals engaged in prostitution in Germany – visas were mostly issued in Łuck based on fraudulent documents. The women declared they were traveling for a different purpose.

    “When Nicolas Sarkozy was the President of France, he advocated changing the rules for issuing Schengen visas to partially restore border controls. One of the reasons was the activity at the Łuck consulate,” says our foreign ministry informant.

    These are not all the sins of the gang at the Polish consulate. In May 2011, Ukrainians discovered at the border that the so-called “clothing” for children, which was supposed to go to a Polish organization in Ukraine, was actually a shipment of new jeans transported by consulate employees. Ukrainians released the goods, and the jeans were sold by consulate officials.

    According to our sources, the scandal at the Łuck consulate is just the tip of the iceberg. They believe that a similar operation, perhaps on a smaller scale, is ongoing in other Polish missions in Ukraine, and possibly beyond. This will continue until Polish diplomatic services are cleansed of PRL-era agents.

    Foreign Ministry: Łuck Consulate – Everything is Normal

    Responses from Marcin Bosacki, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to “Gazeta Polska’s” questions:

    “Gazeta Polska”: In the past two years, has the Ministry of Foreign Affairs conducted inspections at the Łuck consulate, and if so, when were they conducted, and did they find irregularities in the functioning of the facility, such as visa issuance? M. Bosacki: Inspections of diplomatic missions are carried out according to an established schedule. According to this schedule, no inspections were planned at the Consulate General in Łuck in the past two years.

    “Gazeta Polska”: In the past two years, has the Ministry of Foreign Affairs made personnel changes at the Łuck Consulate of the Republic of Poland in Ukraine, and if so, what were the personnel changes? M. Bosacki: In the second half of 2011, there was a planned rotation in diplomatic missions, in accordance with the system in place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Mr. Tomasz Janik was replaced by Mr. Marek Martinek as Consul General in Łuck.

    “Gazeta Polska”: Were the aforementioned changes related to the discovery of irregularities at the consulate by the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau or actions by the prosecution, and if so, what were the irregularities in the facility? M. Bosacki: The change in the position of Consul General was due to the rotational system in place at diplomatic missions.

    “Gazeta Polska”: Has the Ministry of Foreign Affairs made or plans to make other changes in managerial and decision-making positions at the Łuck consulate as well, and if so, are these changes related to irregularities at the facility? M. Bosacki: All positions at diplomatic missions, including the Łuck consulate, are subject to rotation. Since the change in the position of Consul General in Łuck took place in the second half of 2011, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not currently foresee any changes in that position. As for other consular positions, they may be subject to changes as part of the existing rotation plan.

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