Dabar populiaru
Published: 13 november 2012 13:25

Seven Lithuanian Migration Department officials detained under suspicion of selling residency permits

Migracijos departamentas
„15 minučių“/Juliaus Kalinsko nuotr. / Migration Department

Lithuania's Special Investigation Service (SIS) has detained and brought corruption suspicions against seven officials from the Migration Department. They are suspected of illegally profiting from Lithuanian residential permits, law enforcement has announced on Tuesday.

The SIS says that five of the detainees are holding executive positions. Suspicions have also been brought against two lawyers, two assistant lawyers, and two other people.

"The investigation centers around an alleged criminal scheme when non-EU citizens who wanted to receive a permit to live in the Republic of Lithuania or wanted to extend such permits would pay money to lawyers and assistant lawyers who would act as intermediaries," the SIS said in a statement.

The lawyers and assistant lawyers are suspected of later contacting their acquaintances who had contacts at the Migration Department, and then the latter would contact officials from the Migration Department asking for residential permits to be issued to foreigners faster.

"The SIS has information that the officials from the Migration Department who were involved in this scheme would also remunerate each other financially," the statement said.

Searches have been carried out at the Migration Department, law firms and workplaces of other people as well as at residential locations and in the suspect's cars.

A pre-trial investigation into corruption, trade in influence, bribery, misuse of official position, and document forgery has been launched,

Minister of the Interior Artūras Melianas told BNS on Tuesday he had not been informed of the incident and therefore could not provide any comments.

The law enforcement statement also says that foreigners who wish to get residential permits in Lithuania very often use sham enterprises and, in rarer cases, sham marriages with Lithuanian citizens as a legal basis for obtaining such permits. The third way is to purchase real estate in the Lithuanian territory.

Prosecutors say loopholes in Lithuania's laws which allow foreign citizens to employ the above-mentioned methods to obtain residential permits in Lithuania are behind an increasing number of foreigners who want to get Lithuanian residential permits which subsequently allow free movement in the Schengen area.

Department head has no information

The head of Lithuania's Migration Department says he has no information about the disclosure of an alleged residential permit-related corruption scheme at the department.

"I know nothing except what I see in the SIS press release that suspicions related to alleged corruption have been brought. I am reading: detained and brought corruption suspicions against officials of the Migration Department," Almantas Gavėnas, director of the Migration Department, told BNS on Tuesday.

"I know nothing more than what is said in the SIS statement. I am following the presumption of innocence. The time will show," he said.

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