Moldova Police Storm Ukraine Consulate Over ‘Visas for Terrorists’ | Balkan Insight

Moldovan officers on Wednesday arrested a number of staff in the consulate in Odessa, Ukraine, suspected of illegally selling visas to terrorist suspects, among others.
A Moldovan officer maintains a police barrier tape, sealing off an area. Photo: EPA/Doru Dumitru
Officers of the General Prosecutor’s Office in Moldova and the Moldovan Intelligence and Security Service, SIS, stormed the country’s General Consulate in Odessa, Ukraine, on Wednesday, where they arrested staff suspected of illegally selling long-stay visas to terrorist suspects.
The reported price for these illicit services ranged between 1,000 and 3,000 euros, and sources said visas were given to three terrorism suspects from Syria and Egypt.
The raid came after Moldova in February detained three foreign nationals from Syria and Egypt who have acknowledged terrorist links and made detailed statements, according to prosecutors.
SIS officers found out that the network in the consulate included consulate officials, a middleman who claimed to be an adviser to senior officials in Moldova and a staffer at the National Bureau of Migration in Chisinau.
After the arrests of the Moldovan employees involved in the scheme, both the middleman and the staff have since filed statements alleging the involvement of the Moldovan Consul himself, Sergiu Septelici.
The diplomat allegedly ran the scheme, facilitating the legal entrance and long-stay residence of foreigners on Moldovan soil.
Prosecutors said that after the consul in Odessa issued long-stay visas for 60 days contrary to the law, in exchange, he was offered cash in several tranches.
The civil servants and the Bureau for Migration officer face prison for up to six years and a fine for corruption and bribery if found guilty.
Moldova last year launched a so-called Golden Visa programme, which it has promoted especially in the Middle East and Far East.
The scheme has been criticised for potentially facilitating money laundering. Critics also note that the names of these future holders of Moldovan passports are to be kept secret.
The EU has repeatedly expressed concern about the shortcomings of this and similar programmes on offer elsewhere in Europe, urging EU member states to scrap them.



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