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Latvian tourism operator caught in illegal visa business

The State Border Guard, in cooperation with the State Police and the State Revenue Service, has ceased large-scale illegal activity of a Latvian tourism agency in illegally arranged tourism visas to Europe for Uzbek citizens, the Border Guard said March 11.

On March 2 this year, a Latvian citizen who was the Chairman of a tourism agency was detained, on allegations that from 2017 to 2020, he had submitted false information to the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs, providing third-country nationals with the possibility of legally staying in Latvia, other Member States of the European Union, EEZ countries or in the Swiss Confederation.

The criminal proceedings show that the person detained has allegedly made invitations to at least 1,375 Uzbek citizens, of whom at least 1,055 received Latvian visas on the basis of these invitations, and at least 301 Uzbek citizens arrived in Sweden on the basis of these visas, where they requested asylum.

On March 2, the law guards carried out several searches in Rīga and Liepāja in connection with the pre-trial investigation, during which data carriers, cash in large quantities and documents were removed. The offender has been identified as a suspect in committing a criminal offence.

The State Border Guard indicated that a person may be held criminally liable for drawing up visas or residence permits for foreign citizens. Under the Criminal Law, a person may be punished for such an offence by deprivation of liberty for a period of up to five years, temporary deprivation of liberty, forced labor or fines, with or without seizure of property.

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