Author: Matthew Vella
Posted on: Malta Today, April 26th, 2017
The ministry for foreign affairs has said it carried out an investigation into allegations by a Chinese national of kickbacks being paid out on the issuance of visas to Malta for Chinese travellers.
The ministry has not published the results of its inquiry, but a spokesperson said that the allegations were received through an anonymous letter. “There was no evidence that the allegations took place. The Chinese person referred to in the letter no longer works at the embassy.”
The allegations were made via email – seen by MaltaToday – to Beijing ambassador John J. Aquilina on 22 December 2016, in which the accuser, a Chinese national, alleged that a consulate employee, also a Chinese national, had sold “7,000 tourist visas at 13,000-20,000 RMB each” since 2014.
The allegation was that passports forwarded by “agents” working with her would be used for the processing of the tourist visas, backed up by false business licences or bank statements.
Although the accuser said that the consul employee had raked in millions of Chinese renminbi, the details provided related to alleged examples of fraudulent documents being used with little proof to back up the accusation.
In his reply, ambassador Aquilina said that he was viewing the allegations “concerning a long-term member of the embassy’s staff” very seriously.
“I became the Ambassador here twelve months ago, and over the past three months, with the arrival of a new Deputy Head of Mission in mid-August, I have severely revised the way in which visas are processed in our Embassy,” Aquilina told the whistleblower.
“The local staff no longer make any decision concerning approval of visa applications. These matters are all reviewed by a Maltese diplomat.
“We noted some time ago that a number of persons submitting applications with fresh passports had received prior refusals. A Maltese diplomat now checks the system for all applications. Any found to have had a previous refusal are automatically refused. The only exception is in relation to a very small handful who had received previous Maltese refusals.”
Aquilina also requested the names of persons, dates and other details of the alleged ‘agencies’ working with the consulate’s employee.
On 8 January 2017, the person making the accusations once again reiterated the name of the embassy employee, stating that the forged visa documents hailed from Liaoning, Hebei, Shandong and Jilin provinces.
“If you check the materials form the embassy database, you will find employment certificates provided [are] fake, the phone number on the employment certificate couldn’t get through even, not a real company’s phone number. The business license is also false, too. Or you could contact these enterprises… you will find there is no such employee on the employment certificate.”
The accuser also said that fake bank watermarks were used, and that copies of household registers were fake because “all these people are farmers in China who just want to [be] smuggled to work in Europe.”
The next day, Aquilina replied saying he would investigate the allegations.