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18 Jan, 2024 10:24

Former deputy FM charged in Polish cash-for-visas probe

Piotr Wawrzyk is allegedly a key figure in a corruption scheme that reportedly facilitated tens of thousands of illegal entries to the country
Former deputy FM charged in Polish cash-for-visas probe

Former Polish deputy foreign minister, Piotr Wawrzyk, has been arrested by the country’s anti-corruption bureau and charged with abusing his power to facilitate the issuance of visas and residency permits to foreign nationals while in office.

The arrest was conducted by the Lublin branch of the Central Anticorruption Bureau (CBA) on Wednesday as part of a larger investigation into an alleged cash-for-visas scheme, which became a major political scandal in Poland last year.

Wawrzyk is currently one of nine suspects in the probe, the agency said in a statement. The evidence against him is related to his activities from February 2022 to May 2023, it said.

While the ex-official’s full name was withheld from the formal report, he confirmed his arrest to Polish media. He reportedly refused to cooperate with investigators and was released on bail after being charged and questioned.

In a statement released through his attorney, the 56-year-old said he refused to give explanations to officials because he was stressed by the situation. He referred the press to his previous public remarks on the matter.

Last September, after the visa scandal broke and he was relieved from his post, Wawrzyk reportedly required medical treatment in the hospital. Media outlets claimed he had attempted to take his own life.

Wawrzyk was described by the media as a central figure in the alleged graft, being responsible for consular services provided by the Polish Foreign Ministry. In September, Polish prosecutors charged seven people with related crimes, but none of them were government officials.

The scheme allegedly allowed tens of thousands of people to arrive in Poland. Most of them later moved on to other nations in the Schengen free travel zone in Europe or to North American nations, according to press reports.

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