Police probe bribes for residence permits

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The Security Police (DP) suspects several officials of taking bribes for the issuance of residency permits at the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (PMLP).

Counterespionage and operational measures conducted by the DP pointed to possible involvement in illegal activities in connection with the issuance of residency permits among several PMLP officials, says a DP press release.

A criminal investigation was launched June 19 into the possible avaricious taking of payoffs, the mediation of bribery and the offering of kickbacks for the counterfeiting of documents at the PMLP. DP investigators have not divulged the amount of the bribes in question or the nationality of the foreigner.   

The investigation revealed that PMLP agents assisted a third-country citizen in extending their term of residency without following established waiting list procedures and contrary to regulations governing the issuance of such permits. The activities were allegedly coordinated by a Latvian citizen who worked as a middleman between the foreigner and the PMLP for monetary reward.

In order to ensure the provision of the desired residency permit extension, the middleman promised to deliver a bribe for the illegal service. He also forged the necessary documents for submission of the request for an extension.

The middleman was detained on July 7 and arraigned on July 9 as a suspect in the emerging bribe-giving and document-forging scandal. At the same time, two PMLP officials are under procedural status as persons who are subjects in a criminal investigation.

The DP promises to provide more detailed information soon.

The public statement from the DP goes on to say that the information revealed by the investigation “again testifies to the need to ensure comprehensive and strict supervision over the residency permit process.”

“There is a risk that foreigners who do not conform with the requirements of the law could try to get a residency permit by exploiting a dishonest official, thus creating a national security threat,” the DP stressed.

PMLP chief Vilnis Jekabsons told LR that he has no reason to believe any permits were illegally extended due to somebody’s avarice at the office. In his opinion, a “human error” has most likely occurred.

The PMLP also said it has not been notified in writing about the two officials in question, though the DP has provided oral information about one of them, Jekabsons explained. That person has already admitted their mistake and resigned from the office, he said.

He also stressed that procedural violations were minor, involving only the improper issuance of an ID card. The PMLP head admitted however that supervision over the issuance of ID cards needs to be strengthened, perhaps by increasing the staff so that the same official is not responsible for both the receipt of submissions and the issuance of cards.

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