The European Commission provided unreliable information about the illegal business on Schengen visas to the European Parliament. The information provided by the Commission distorts the facts and this way hides the crime of visa fraud. Probably, it’s a case of corruption in the European Commission.
The PETI Committee published a document called Notice to Members (ref. CM\1111731EN, PE595.524v01-00). This document was based on the Commission reply to the PETI Committee request about the Schengen visas fraud.
The Commission reply mentions that the Commission was doing correspondence with the author of the Petition 0789/2015 in 2015 and 2016. Below is the summary of such distortion and cases of providing unreliable information:
1. Commission to the European Parliament: “The Commission is not in a position to provide an answer on the matter related to the alleged fraud concerning the issuing of national (long-stay) visas by the Polish consulate in Belarus, as this is a matter of exclusive national competence.”
In reality, the question of fraud on Schengen visas, not the national visas, was raised in the correspondence. In its replies to the petitioner, the Commission repeatedly was using words “Schengen visas”. Probably, the Commission tries to avoid responsibility before the European Parliament for violating the European Code on Visas. It’s the European Commission who bears responsibility for enforcement of this law.
2. Commission to the European Parliament: “The petitioner alleges irregularities without providing the details necessary to investigate them.”
There are about 200 documents in the case of Schengen visa fraud, totally containing about 1000 pages. 34 documents containing about 200 pages were submitted in support of the Petition 0789/2015. The Commission never turned to the petitioner asking to provide proofs of the crime. All the letters of the Commission were meaning that the visa procedure was OK. From a legal point of view, the documents allow to state that a crime has been committed. Moreover, the documents point to the individuals who have committed this crime.
3. Commission to the European Parliament: “Given that the Commission services have no proof of the alleged existence of a criminal network selling Schengen visas in Belarus, ..., the Commission decided to discontinue correspondence with the petitioner and informed him about this decision on 18 March and 18 April 2016.“
In correspondence with the petitioner, the Commission acknowledged the fact of illegal commerce on Schengen visas, for example in its letter on 17 December 2016 Ares(2015) 5925685: “the applicants cannot book the appointments directly but are forced to purchase them from intermediaries.” The same statement is contained in the reply of the Commission to the request of two members of the European Parliament on 15 February 2016, reference E-015516/2015.
The Ambassador of Poland in Minsk made a statement on a press conference on 14 November 2012 about an organized criminal group which took control over the procedure of issuing Schengen visas. Statement about activities of an organized criminal group in Belarus was also made in Warsaw on 1 June 2013 by the Press Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland.
The criminal network in Belarus was based on about 70 intermediary firms. These firms used website to attract citizens who needed Schengen visas. Screenshots of some of these websites containing information about prices and conditions of getting Schengen visa were provided in support of the Petition 0789/2015.
4. Commission to the European Parliament: “The Commission informed the petitioner that following the European Commission's analysis of the situation, nothing indicated the existence of any illegal or corrupt activities by Polish officials in relation to the issuing of visas in the Polish consulates in Belarus.”
Evidence collected by the Renaissance movement indicates, that the illegal network of intermediaries in Belarus has been created by the Polish councils. The Polish councils were controlling prices on the illegal visa market.
In 2013, independent press of Belarus published three parts of an article called “The truth about Schengen visas. Lies of the Polish Ambassador”. The article contains anonymous testimony of managers of two intermediary firms which stated that they transfer illegal payments for Schengen visas to the Embassy of Poland in Minsk.
The visa fraud in Belarus is a relapse. The same individuals, Polish councils, had organized a visa fraud earlier in Ukraine. In 2011, the police of Denmark, Germany, Spain and France revealed criminal activities of the Polish councils.
Based on the collected data, it can be concluded that representatives of the ruling party of Poland at that time, the Civil Platform (Platforma Obywatelska), were the organizers of the visa fraud. The following question arises: Is Mr Donald Tusk, the ex-Prime Minister of Poland and leader of the Civil Platform, a member of the organized criminal group, or his party only used illegal incomes in its activities?
5. Commission to the European Parliament: “As regards the petitioner's request for compensation for damages payable to the government of Belarus and to the non-governmental organisation which he is heading, namely the Foundation RENESANS. BY, the Commission informed the petitioner that he was free to take any legal action which he might consider appropriate.”
In reality, a requirement to compensate the damage done to the citizens of Belarus as the result of Schengen visa fraud, was sent to the Commission. About 800.000 Belarusian citizens were forced to pay illegal fees when obtaining Schengen visa. It was suggested to compensate by funding projects aimed to support the civil society of Belarus. This question was raised in Addendum-2 to the Petition No 0789/2015. The Renaissance movement strongly opposes funding the Belarusian regime which is the last dictatorship of Europe.
6. The Commission lists letters received from the petitioner and states that it has provided reply to all appeals. This statement is misleading. The Commission did not reply to the appeals which raised the following questions:
- Illegal business on Schengen visas in several African countries and some regions of Russia. During its investigation, the Renaissance came across sources which stated that the visa business around Polish councils is flourishing in Africa and Russia. The Renaissance does not have resource to investigate these messages. The information was sent to the European Commission.
- Abuse of funds provided by the EU to the civil society of Belarus. Each year the EU allocates funds to the Polish intermediaries which should implement the projects to support the civil society of Belarus. In reality, the funds remain in Poland, and the intermediaries provide false data about the implemented projects to the EU authorities.
- Registration of a representative of the Belarusian civil movements and NGOs in Brussels. The EU authorities could provide financial grants to this representative bypassing the intermediaries. This way, fraud on grants can be avoided.
- Illegal commercial transactions. Belarus is a black hole in the legal space of Europe. Illegal commercial transactions involving European companies are made there. The amount of transactions is measured in hundreds of millions euros. This information was also submitted to the Commission, but it did not reply to it.
The aforementioned circumstances allow to conclude that the Commission is making efforts to hide many law violations, including the visa fraud.