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Visa Woes_ Fraud Infest Region by liuhongmei

VIEWS: 102 PAGES: 15

									                                                                                                                               Bob Samsot, Editor

                                                                                                                               John Holland, Editor

A Newsletter of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project                                                 
N° 5 | Dec. 16, 2009

                             Visa Woes, Fraud Infest Region
 Ordinary citizens seem to accept the ordeal of visas and passports as a way to keep criminals and terrorists out of
their counties, but there is a separate, shadow market that takes care of people who are willing to deal in illegality.
First published on Nov. 17, 2009

    n Ukraine, a folk ensemble danced under
    the windows of an embassy to prove they
    should get visas so they could participate
in a cultural festival.
  In Russia, Serbia, and other countries
throughout the region, people with criminal
pasts or a willingness to circumvent rules
don’t dance and, in fact, rarely even go to the
embassies. They avoid the endless lines that
ordinary people in Eastern Europe endure,
and they are not faced with countless requests
for one more document, an endeavor that
sometimes results in rejection for travel.
   In today’s globalized society, most ordinary
people face bureaucratic obstacles to getting
work visas, passports and residency papers.
Most shrug off the lines, the interviews and
the hassle as a necessary part of a system that
is designed to protect national interests, to       Documents seized in a police acton in October 2009 in Sofia and four
regulate labor resources and to create barriers     other Bulgarian towns. --Courtesy of Bulgarian Ministry of the Interior.
to criminals and terrorists.
  Yet, those barriers often are nonexistent          Yet Russian businessmen with criminal                   Do the authorities know about those
for those with criminal pasts or those who        connections have managed to become citizens              sales pitches? Sometimes their relatives are
can afford to exploit weaknesses in the           of Greece and Germany and have crossed the               involved. In Macedonia, the owner of a
system.                                           European Union (EU) border easily, buying                tourist agency was arrested for taking money
                                                  villas at the seaside, yachts and prestigious cars.      and then not delivering promised visas.
  Journalists from the Organized Crime and                                                                 She turned out to be the wife of a former
Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) in           Rules Can be Bent or Broken                              Macedonian minister of justice.
several countries examined the situation in
                                                     Even for those without influence, there is               Money and connections are the keys to a
their region, what support and “assistance”
                                                  help, although they must be willing to break             back door in border-crossing, helping people
offers are available concerning border-
                                                  the law and pay the price. In the countries              avoid restrictions and tough regulations and
crossing practices, and what the prices are
                                                  of Eastern Europe and in Russia there is a               giving easy access. It doesn’t seem to matter
for this assistance. The OCCRP research
                                                  massive, well-developed business offering                in some cases whether the person is a criminal
demonstrates that nearly everything is
                                                  assistance in getting documents to travel.               leader or a terrorist.
possible in this boundless market for people
                                                  Such businesses advertise themselves through
with money.
                                                  the Internet, in newspapers and simply                   Djindjic Killer Had Forged Passport
  Even honorary consul status, which              through hand-lettered sheets with telephone
                                                                                                              In Serbia, a former special forces
sometimes can be seen as holding a                numbers, plastered on utility poles along the
                                                                                                           commander, known as Legija, whose name
diplomatic passport, is for sale in some          streets.
                                                                                                           is Milorad Ulemek or Milorad Lukovic,
                                                    This is how it works: There are plenty of              has been sentenced to four maximum
  Here are the two faces of migration the         offers, starting with promises of “assistance”           terms of imprisonment for arranging the
reporters found: In the case of the Ukrainian     with tourist or business visas and finishing             murder of prime-minister Zoran Djinjdic
dance troupe, they wanted several days’ visas     with the “real help” to get second citizenship           and with helping a local criminal gang
as guests, and, in the end, were rejected and     and even an honorary consulate. Forged visas             set up a number of terrorist attacks and
the rejection was stamped in passports, the       and passports are readily available in Moscow            kidnappings. When he was arrested, a forged
black stamp.                                      and elsewhere.                                           Croatian passport was in his possession.

Before 2001, he traveled with a diplomatic       proceedings. Wealth is not usually enough             Moldova police, pressed a few years ago
passport from the government of Slobodan         to get honorary consul status. Connections         by the US to cut down on the number of
Milosevic. According to police, criminal clan    are needed as well. In Russia, at least three of   fraudulent passports that had been widely
leaders who had been friendly to the former      Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s friends’ have      used in human trafficking, have seen a decline
commander had diplomatic passports, too.         that status. In Serbia, a slots-club owner is an   in the number of assistance companies,
                                                 honorary consul.                                   although some still exist. An inquiry at one of
   The recently published 2009 Organized
                                                                                                    those companies was met by assurances that a
Crime Threat Assessment from Europol                 Radovan Karadzic, an ultranationalist
                                                                                                    passport and identification would be enough
reported that Eastern Europe, including          who was the first president of Bosnian Serbs
                                                                                                    to procure a visa, which usually requires
former Soviet Union republics and the            and their leader during the 1992-1995 war,
                                                                                                    an invitation letter, a hotel reservation,
Western Balkans, are sources of illegal          is now at The Hague as a war criminal; he
                                                                                                    information about the applicant’s job and
immigration, which is facilitated by             was arrested with a passport that identified
                                                                                                    salary, copies of work-record books and,
“inconsistent immigration laws and national      as a peasant he had never met. When new,
                                                                                                    sometimes, university certificates and health
anomalies in the Schengen visa policy.”          biometric passports were issued, they were
                                                                                                    insurance policies. A company spokesperson,
Europol, in that assessment, reported that       supposed to supposed to prevent passport
                                                                                                    asked how that could happen, said it was
“counterfeit documents…[touch] upon              fraud, but one lawyer in Macedonia said
                                                                                                    the company’s problem, but to solve it, the
all criminal markets. Identity documents,        the skills to crack their codes are already in
                                                                                                    company must work through Ukraine, so the
passports, birth certificates, and residence     evidence among young hackers who tamper
                                                                                                    prices for assistance are higher.
permits are among the most commonly              with credit card codes.
targeted documents ensuring smooth                                                                     Russian websites offer passports, visas and
                                                    Bulgaria has become so alarmed by the
perpetration of cross border organized crime.”                                                      various other travel and business papers,
                                                 use of fraud in obtaining travel and business
                                                                                                    along with credit cards and debit cards. The
   The shadow business that makes such offers    documents that it announced a crackdown
                                                                                                    invitation letter from a European company
aggressively protects itself. In July 2009, a    on such practices. As one official suggested,
                                                                                                    that would be needed to acquire a business
Slovenian diplomat was threatened after he       the best way to force the system into honesty
                                                                                                    visa can be purchased in an office 300 meters
warned his government that organized crime       is to eliminate intermediaries, who arrange
                                                                                                    from the Kremlin. Other offers advertise
figures from the Balkans were establishing       for red tape to disappear and for necessary
                                                                                                    citizenship in Russia and Russian passports for
fictitious companies in Slovenia, getting work   documents to materialize.
                                                                                                    international travels in days to months.And
permits and residence in the European Union
                                                 Problems Continue Country to                       those selling them assure anyone who inquires
through papers involving those companies.
                                                 Country                                            that timelines can be sped up. According
  The offers to help obtain Schengen status                                                         to the Federal Migration Service, in Russia
range from $70,000 to $1 million. Honorary          In Macedonia, visa assistance is offered for    alone there is a $10 billion market in offers
consul status can bring diplomatic immunity      citizens to travel to virtually every country,     to “speed up” the process of getting passport.
and business advantages. For instance, it        with prices varying depending on which             The Migration Service recently declared it
can carry the exclusive right to import or       country the person wants to visit and for          would start a state enterprise to issue passports
export certain goods and a diminishment          what purpose. The same practice is available       rapidly and squeeze the criminals out, putting
of taxes during importation or exportation       in nearly every Eastern European country.          its bureaucracy in charge.

                          RUSSIA: A Price for Everything
 Russians looking to leave their country to do business abroad, visit relatives or take a relaxing holiday face long
  odds and bureaucratic obstacles if they try to play by the rules. Those with money, political connections and
 no qualms about using them have an easy path to worldwide travel, or even a second citizenship and passports
                                                under a new name.
  Written by: Roman Shleynov, Novaya Gazeta
  First published on Nov. 17, 2009                    The doorway of The Central Telegraph, with the Soviet

                                                      State symbol still hanging above it, opens into a world
         bout 500 meters from the Kremlin             of visa possibilities. --by Julia Balashova, Novaya Gazeta
         and Red Square on Tverskaya Street
         squats the 52,200 square-meter grey
building of The Central Telegraph. Granite
steps lead to a central entrance and above
the glass of the massive wooden front doors
hangs an old Soviet State emblem with the
prominent terrestrial globe and stylized
hammer and sickle.
  From this building, it is possible to get
nearly anywhere in the world. With a tourist
or business visa in a passport and without
spending time in line or anywhere near
an embassy, travel is possible to Europe,
Australia, South America, Asia and North
America. There are few problems for anyone
with enough money.
   An investigation by reporters for the
Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting
Project (OCCRP) shows that money and
connections are enough to provide not only
a passport and a visa, but all the necessary
documents for unrestricted global travel.
They also can secure a second citizenship and       in tears,” said the woman, who is 28. “…                  judge Baltasar Garzon in 2008, recounted
a second passport and even a second passport        my mother lives in Russia, I have a job that              that, despite all his accounts being blocked,
under a different name.                             brings good money, and I like my job…But,                 he had led a high life.
  Why any regular citizen might need to seek        in the embassy, they don’t trust me at all.
                                                                                                              Connections to Petrov, Malyshev
assistance with a visa is seen through the eyes        She is a designer and never had problems
of one woman who wanted only to travel              with the law and still she could not travel                 Garzon noted Salikov’s connections
legally.                                            for a year. After the year had passed and she             to Gennadi Petrov and Alexander
                                                    had spent seven nervous visits to the embassy             Malyshev, who also have been indicted in
   She married a man who had come from                                                                        Spain as leaders of the group, which law
Germany and while they live and work                where she said she was treated coldly, she got
                                                    a visa for three months, and it was to be her             enforcement has identified as involved in
in Russia, they planned to spend their                                                                        money laundering, weapons trading, fraud,
honeymoon traveling and also visiting his           single opportunity to visit the country.
                                                                                                              smuggling, drug trafficking and murder.
native country. The woman, who did not                Suspected criminal leaders and those
want her name used, is a Russian and has            willing to break the law can avoid such                      Petrov and Malyshev also had moved
no desire to leave her country for good,            obstacles, to travel or even to become citizens           from Russia to Europe without problems.
so she asked the German embassy for a               of other countries.                                       Russian and Spanish law enforcement,
Schengen multi-visa. The embassy rejected                                                                     tracked the two beginning in the early 1990s.
the application on suspicion she would not            Take the case of Russian native Yuri                    Before that, Soviet law enforcement had
return to Russia, and stamped her passport          Salikov, accused last year in Spain of                    indicted Malyshev twice for murder and
with the black stamp, a symbol of rejection         belonging to the Russian “Tambovsko-                      Petrov for economic crime. Nevertheless,
recognized by embassies and customs agents          Malyshevskaya” organized crime group.                     Petrov managed to get Greek citizenship,
all over the world.                                 When he went to Spain, he had managed to                  and Malyshev assumed a new identity as
                                                    acquire German citizenship. When he was                   “Alexander Lagnas Gonzalez” and moved to
  Later, she asked for a transit or limited visa,   charged in Spain with tax fraud for more                  Spain.
but was refused again—the black stamp made          than €28 million, his friends posted a bond
any visa virtually impossible to acquire.           for him and he was released.                                Petrov and another suspect in the case held
                                                                                                              “identity cards of EU member countries that
  “Several times, I left the German embassy           The indictment, signed by investigating                 sufficiently broaden their opportunities to

                                                                                                      Assistance for a Price
                                          Police officers walk by without noticing the flyers
                                          advertising visa assistance along Chistoprudniy Boulevard     What does assistance supplying necessary
                                          in Moscow. --Roman Shleynov, Novaya Gazeta                  documents mean? If someone wants a
                                                                                                      business visa to Europe but has not been
                                                                                                      invited, the company for a sum will provide
                                                                                                      the needed invitation.
                                                                                                        A phone call to “Majestic Tour” was
                                                                                                      connected by a secretary to a friendly woman
                                                                                                      who gave her name as Olesya.
                                                                                                        Told that a business visa to Germany was
                                                                                                      needed, she replied, “We may try to get half a
                                                                                                      year business visa.”
                                                                                                        Asked how this could be possible with
                                                                                                      no invitation, she responded: “We will
                                                                                                      add the invitation for you.” She explained
                                                                                                      that there would be an invitation from a
                                                                                                      business organization, a letter stipulating
                                                                                                      that the client is a representative of a Russian
                                                                                                      company that the business organization
                                                                                                      would like to cooperate with.
                                                                                                        Olesya said, “You can get a multi visa only
                                                                                                      on those grounds.”
                                                         maintain that Petrov and others are            She then ran down the prices and the
                                                         not guilty and that all their money has      procedure. A 6-month business multi-visa
                                                         legal origins, because Gennadi Petrov        for Germany costs €900. A client need not
                                                        is a successful businessman with good         go anywhere except to “Majestic Tour” and
                                                        connections in Russian political circles.     bring a passport and some other necessary
                                                                                                      documents. The passport, with a visa stamped
                                                          How do they and others travel freely,       in it, would be ready in 10 to 12 days.
                                                       avoiding long waits or multiple embassy
                                                       visits?                                          Just to compare: the official cost for a
                                                                                                      regular visa from the German Embassy is
                                                        To understand how virtually                   €35-60. The company charges €900 for
                                                      everything is available—at a price—in           “assistance” that includes procuring the
                                                      Russia, a good starting point is behind         invitation letter plus getting the documents
                                                      those doors at The Central Telegraph.           to the embassy and back. The “assistance,”
                                                         Everything seems legal, and in part          then, would bring the company at least
                                                     it is, but a closer look reveals ways to         €840—at least 14 times the regular visa cost.
                                                     overcome official regulations and laws.            Anyone interested in getting such help
                                                       Just past the main, wooden doors, sits         can type “visa assistance” into a computer
                                                     an unremarkable steel door. Beyond it lies       in Russia and find nearly 459,000 links,
                                                     a maze of offices of different companies.        mainly advertisements and websites of such
                                                    A notice on the wall reads “personnel             companies. Some are tourist agencies; others
                                                    entrance,” but a uniformed guard sits             advertise themselves as specialists at passport
                                                    behind a desk and registers visitors. Some        and visa services.
                                                   of those whose names he notes are headed              In Russia, this market, which includes
                                                   for Office 605, where “Majestic Tour” is           legitimate offers to guide someone through
                                                   located.                                           the process, also offers different forms of
and act in Europe.” In Spain, the
suspects had access to seaside villas, luxury      The company’s web page (www.myvisa.                assistance in obtaining visas, passports,
cars, and motor boats. All were owned under      ru) says it is “the leader in the market of visa     citizenships, work and residence permits.
company names. Then, according to case           services in Moscow” and has worked “in               Help is advertised for the visa process (or
files, Petrov made an unsuccessful attempt to    passport and visa services for more than 7           the procedure of getting a Russian passport
have his name removed from Greek files, to       years”. The web page also contains a price list      for traveling abroad, or Russian citizenship)
eliminate the notation that Petrov was not       for visa assistance: to Germany or Poland –          not only on the Internet but on computer-
allowed in the country whose citizenship he      from €70; USA – from €150; Spain – from              generated signs on paper pasted to utility
had acquired.                                    €200; France, Switzerland or Greece – from           poles along Moscow’s boulevards.
                                                 €190; Great Britain – from €100; China –
  The lawyers of the arrested Russians
                                                 €60. Nearly all the globe is included.

Signs of Illegality                                                                                           It is possible to get the citizenship of
                                                                                                           Dominica, Lemeshko said, by investing
   Most people, including police officers who                                                              $70,000-$100,000. Citizenship in Saint
pass by the signs, pay no heed, apparently                                                                 Kitts and Nevis comes with an investment of
used to the sight. It seems of little significance                                                         $200,000-$250,000. Saint Kitts and Nevis
to people used to the idea that everything                                                                 citizenship and passports come with an added
is available at a price, starting with the legal                                                           benefit—visa-free entrance to countries in the
help of the lawyer who follows the rules                                                                   Schengen zone and also to Great Britain.
for documents needed to get passport or
citizenship.                                                                                                  After investing €500,000 in Bulgaria, he
                                                                                                           said, a second citizenship and passport of
  But even those who follow the law                                                                        that country can be obtained. In Austria
know that there is a large market in illegal                                                               and Slovakia the investments that qualify an
documents and forged passports.                                                                            individual for a second citizenship start from
  The size of even the market that just speeds                                                             €2 million, but more than simple investment
up the process of obtaining a legal Russian                                                                is required, Lemeshko said. In each of those
passport for traveling abroad is impressive.                                                               countries, an individual applying for second
According to the Federal Migration Service,                                                                citizenship must also render services to
                                                        Competing advertisements offer visa help (in
companies that help to “speed up the                    blue) and citizenship of Russia (in black) along   the country, for example, creating jobs for
process” earn $10 billion a year. That figure           Chistoprudniy Boulevard in Moscow. --Roman         the country’s citizens, broadening export
has led the government to plan to offer its             Shleynov, Novaya Gazeta                            opportunities, or investing in culture or
own assistance soon, and not leave the market                                                              health care.
to entrepreneurs.                                                                                            Then there is the Dominican Republic,
                                                     fraudulent passport--or nothing at all.
  The “assistance” in getting visas appears                                                                whose citizenship and passport is one of
                                                        There are other offers. One former state
legal, except for the procurement of                                                                       the cheapest options – $25,000. Lemeshko
                                                     official, who asked to remain anonymous
invitation letters for a business trip, but there                                                          explained that the figure is not even an
                                                     because the practice he discloses is illegal and
are plenty of illegal offers on the Internet as                                                            investment but simply the amount needed
                                                     punishable, explained how it was possible to
well.                                                                                                      to speed up the process to get residency and
                                                     obtain the passport and citizenship of Italy,
                                                                                                           then citizenship. And Dominican Republic
   According to the European Union (EU)              for example. The price starts from €15,000,
                                                                                                           laws allow speeding up the two-year process
Organized Crime Threat Assessment (OCTA              he said, and the “client” gets a legal Italian
                                                                                                           so that it takes no longer than six months,
2009), “the Internet, with its virtual stores        passport. The supporting documents would
                                                                                                           Lemeshko said. He added that clients do not
selling all kinds of goods, is one of the main       show that the “client” had or still has relatives
                                                                                                           particularly care how local lawyers speed up
distribution channels for counterfeits.”             in Italy. Those who arrange such documents,
                                                                                                           the procedure; they just want it done.
                                                     the official said, ask only that the “client”
  At the website of a Russian company
                                                     avoid visiting the Italian village where the             Though the Dominican Republic passport
that calls itself ”Vendor of Cards” (www.
                                                     documents claim his relatives lived or still          and citizenship is less expensive, according there is a vast choice of the
                                                     live.                                                 to Lemeshko, it is not widely used because
passports and citizenships of nearly all the
                                                                                                           it does not offer entrance to Europe
countries in the world. The company states             Moscow jurist Oleg Lemeshko has worked
                                                                                                           without a visa. It is used, he said, for real
that it can provide any necessary document           to help assist people with immigration
                                                                                                           immigration to the Dominican Republic or
and that the procedure will take from two            for more than 10 years. He acknowledges
                                                                                                           to have an “alternative airfield” if something
months to five years, depending on the other         that such schemes exist, based on various
                                                                                                           unpredictable happened in a client’s native
country involved.                                    programs in different countries, to speed
                                                     up the process of getting citizenship for the
   Passports are not the only goods that
                                                     descendants of their citizens. According                 Lemeshko said it is also possible to get a
“Vendor of Cards” offers. There are also
                                                     to Lemeshko, stretches are possible in                residence permit by founding a company.
drivers’ licenses of different countries, credit
                                                     any search for ancestors, so he never deals           But, he said, the time has long passed that
cards, debit cards and card readers. It is
                                                     with the process because it is an exercise in         someone could get a residence permit to
possible to reach the company only through
                                                     “adventurism”.                                        the Czech Republic, Slovakia or Poland by
e-mail. An e-mail inquiring about a Bulgarian
                                                                                                           simply founding a company and not doing
passport got a reply in a day from an                The Trade for Investment                              any real business there. In the 1990s, he said,
“administrator”, who wrote that it would take
                                                       Lemeshko’s specialty, instead, is help in           it used to cost the equivalent of €1,000. But
a month and cost €12,000, which could be
                                                     programs that grant second citizenships to            everything has changed.
transferred through an international payment
system.                                              people who invest in the countries. A dozen             He said that, in his experience, even if
                                                     countries will trade second citizenships for          a person has real business, say in Spain, a
   All that was required were copies of an           investments.                                          residence permit is not automatically.
individual’s documents and photos. The law
prohibits any state agency from granting               This is the way it works, and while it offers         Dominica, which lies about 500 miles
a legal passport if the only documents are           second citizenships and easy travel, it is very       away from the Dominican Republic in the
copies and not originals. So it is unclear if the    expensive to the investor but can benefit the         Caribbean, advertises a second citizenship
result of the money transferred would be a           country that grants second citizenship for an         and passport on the web for possible clients
                                                     investment.                                           from Russia, and mentions its offshore
company opportunities. In Russian,                 registration, licensing of internet casinos and   his company could help in that respect and
the webpage of CCP Inc., registered in             sports books…”                                    could even suggest a local lawyer who could
Dominica (, reads, in part:                                                            help—for $2,000.
                                                     A phone inquiry to CCP Inc. about its
“You definitely need a second citizenship
                                                   various services was answered by a secretary,     The Whole Package
and second passport if your present
                                                   who transferred the call to a “specialist”,
nationality causes you one of the following                                                             If what Kenny said is true, anyone with
                                                   an employee who gave his name as Kenny.
problems: …makes you a target for                                                                    $96,500 could get a second citizenship
                                                   He ran down a list of possibilities and
terrorists, allows your present government                                                           and second passport for Dominica—and a
                                                   mentioned the recommendation from the
to control, limit and register your traveling,                                                       new identity and papers to support it, all
                                                   minister. He explained that, although the
…forces you and your children to serve in                                                            legal documents that would put starting
                                                   company is private, it got its license from the
the army …your state is politically unstable,                                                        an offshore company or bank account, and
you want to insure your family against                                                               traveling around the world, within grasp.
unforeseeable misfortunes.”                          He said the contribution needed for a
                                                   second citizenship and a second passport was        Who, in Russia, would search for such a
   The website also mentioned that after                                                             deal?
                                                   $75,000. The company service, including all
an individual gets a second citizenship and
                                                   necessary taxes and fees—another $ 15,000.           Perhaps businessmen with controversial
second passport of Dominica, he can change
                                                   But also needed was a payment for a due-          connections, those who managed to make
names and get a second passport under that
                                                   diligence check. This would be conducted by       politics a second career. Officially in Russia,
name. The advantages are described this
                                                   another private company authorized by the         no official can hold second citizenship-
way: “an offshore company for business and
                                                   government, Kenny said, and that fee should       -a 2007 law prohibited it for parliament
investments – it is like a Lincoln car; a second
                                                   be paid directly to that company. He said the     members, senators, and top public officials.
citizenship and a second passport, together
                                                   price might differ, but usually, because the      Has that stopped the practice?
with an offshore company, plus one more
                                                   company has experience working with quite a
citizenship and passport with another name –                                                           An official representative of the Russian
                                                   few Russians, about $4,500.
it is like a Rolls-Royce.”                                                                           Federal Migration Service (FMC) said that
                                                                                                     second citizenships are a global problem.
                                                                                                     Western Europe has tried to figure out how
                                               Another view of the imposing Central Telegraph        to regulate it and there are negotiations
                                               Building --by Julia Balashova, Novaya Gazeta
                                                                                                     within the agency on that topic.
                                                                                                       He said the 2007 law prohibited the
                                                                                                     practice, but there is a problem of control
                                                                                                     even there. Russian citizenship can be
                                                                                                     confirmed by his agency. But to get
                                                                                                     information about foreign citizenship of a
                                                                                                     person, the request must be answered by the
                                                                                                     other country. And the country is not obliged
                                                                                                     to give out the information about citizenship
                                                                                                     of the person because it is considered private.
                                                                                                        Lemeshko, the jurist who specializes in
                                                                                                     immigration assistance, residency permits and
                                                                                                     second citizenships, acknowledged that there
                                                                                                     is a kind of “regulation vacuum” in Russia
                                                                                                     concerning second citizenship and second
                                                                                                       Even among officials, the subject is
                                                                                                     sensitive. The vice speaker of the Russian
Support from the Government?                          The entire time required to get the
                                                                                                     parliament, one of the leaders of the “Fair
                                                   passport, the second citizenship and a second
   CCP Inc. states that the Dominica                                                                 Russia” political party, Alexander Babakov
                                                   passport would be two to three months, he
government supports its activites. On the                                                            was a businessman before he became an
                                                   said. He added that it is quite easy to get a
website is what is described as a letter of                                                          official. Several years ago he owned and
                                                   Schengen visa, and no need to get any visa at
recommendation from the Minister of                                                                  directed the Swiss company Iwenta SA,
                                                   all to travel on a Dominica passport to Great
Economic Development Julius C. Timothy.                                                              which owned a hotel in Ukraine. The Swiss
It reads, in part: “CCP Inc. is a company                                                            register of commerce contains a document of
registered in Dominica…providing a                    Asked if it were possible to change names      that company saying that in 2001 Alexander
link between international investors and           in Dominica to get a second passport              Babakov was an Israeli citizen.
Dominica....CCP Inc. provides a gamut              in another name, Kenny said it was. He
                                                                                                        Asked if he had rejected his Israeli
of services to the international investors         explained that, although the government does
                                                                                                     citizenship because an official is forbidden to
including formation of the IBCs and offshore       not like anyone changing names in less than
                                                                                                     hold a second citizenship, Babakov said only
banks, exempted insurances and trusts,             six months to a year after getting a second
                                                                                                     that he is a citizen of Russia.
economic citizenship and international ships’      citizenship, it is not regulated in the law. So

         BULGARIA: Persistent, Growing Problems
Drug dealers, street thugs and common criminals from across Central and Eastern Europe are winning Bulgarian
  passports and visas even though they don’t meet even the lowest requirements. Meanwhile, those seeking to
    reclaim their heritage and get a passport to their ancestral home face daunting, often impossible, odds.
Written by: Stanimir Vaglenov, Bulgarian Investigative
Journalism Center
First published on Nov. 17, 2009

        he list of foreigners waiting for
        Bulgarian citizenship—and
        passports—is longer than 51,000, and
their requests, dating back four to five years
have not even been considered.
   In that time, the Ministry of Justice has
considered another 8,204 requests and
rejected half, mainly because candidates lied
about their Bulgarian origins or presented
false supporting documents.
  The minister in charge of such matters,
Bojidar Dimitrov, who pointed out persistent               Police move an armored Budimir Kujovich
and growing problems with fraudulent                       in an extradition from Bulgaria. --Courtesy
                                                           of Bulgarian Ministry of Interior
applications, was asked who could easily get a
Bulgarian passport.
                                                         chain… for granting Bulgarian passports,”
  His reply was quick: “Ask Kujovic; he has              Pavlov said. He said the way documents are
a passport.”                                             granted must be examined, “because the
   Budimir Kujovic, according to the                     Bulgarian image is being destroyed and a
Ministry of the Interior, is a main figure in            despicable trade environment has resulted.”
the Balkan underworld, a Serbian citizen                 He said he has worked with Dimitrov and
who has been named in drug investigations                the new president of his former agency, Raina
in several Bulgarian towns. He registered                Mandjurova, and knows they take strong
his first company—which turned out to be                 measures when necessary.
manufacturing amphetamines—in 1997,                         But changing things will be difficult,
using Serbian and Slovenian passports. After             according to figures kept by the country.             Documents seized in a police action in Sofia
a series of arrests and incidents involving              The desire for Bulgarian citizenship has              in September 2009. --Courtesy of Bulgarian
his properties, culminating with his arrest              strengthened with the admission of Bulgaria
                                                                                                               Ministry of the Interior.
on drug charges in 2002, he was extradited               to the European Union (EU) and its Schengen
from Bulgaria in 2005 and banned from the                                                                   waiting period and one year for naturalization.
                                                         visa system that allows any EU citizen to travel
country for 10 years.                                    freely throughout in the union.                      One result, said Dimitrov, is that “In
  The next year, he got an identification card                                                              Moldova and Macedonia, there are firms that
and passport—from Bulgaria.
                                                         Fraud Biggest Rejection Cause                      offer, for money, to get Bulgarian citizenship
                                                            Nevertheless, of all the reasons for            for people in three months.”
Signals for Re-Examination                               rejection, false documents rank highest.             Dimitrov’s solution to this persistent
  Although the Kujovic affair led to the                 Rejection on the grounds of a candidate’s          and growing problem is simple—Rule on
resignation of the chief secretary of the                presenting a threat to social order or to          Bulgarian citizenship in a period between
Ministry of the Interior, Ilia Iliev, who had            national security is rare, according to the        three and six months.
authorized the passport, Kujovic’s is just               statistics of the Ministry of Justice.
                                                                                                              He said there should be an option, for
one example of how criminals and others                    But rejections have an effect, said a            those who cannot come to Bulgaria to apply,
with connections get passports easily, while             spokesman in the press office of the Ministry.     to give their requests to Bulgarian embassies,
ordinary people wait for years and face                  In recent years, requests for passports have       and not to use mediators, who, he said, are
skepticism about their reasons for wanting to            decreased, because of many rejections. The         part of the corruption chain.
move to or visit Bulgaria.                               Ministry of Justice rejected just 824 of
                                                         22,129 in 2005, while in 2008 it rejected            “We should stop thinking that if the
   Plamen Pavlov, former president of the
                                                         2,922 of 12,870 requests.                          Bulgarian citizenship is given more easily
Agency of Bulgarians Abroad, said plenty of
                                                                                                            in our country, criminals would enter,” he
signals call for examination of the procedures             But candidates must wait years to find out       said. “The criminals just buy passports and
and changes.                                             whether they will get a Bulgarian passport or      they don’t wait for years like the ordinary
  “I am very disturbed…for the corruption                not, even though the law stipulates a 3-month      people.”

      MACEDONIA: Turning Away from the Law
  Archaic rules, Communist-era red tape and overwhelming backlogs have forced law-abiding Macedonians to
 make uncomfortable choices. An elderly woman hoping to visit her son and granddaughter must decide what to
                                           do before it’s too late.
Written by: Aleksandar Bozinovski                                                                  passport because in the old one they have a
First published on Nov. 17, 2009                                                                   “black” stamp, [which signifies deportation]

       he South Macedonia woman waited                                                             and cannot travel anywhere.”
       impatiently in Skopje airport, asking                                                         An official in the Ministry of Foreign
       if there were any delay of her plane                                                        Affairs said that Macedonia’s embassies,
to Oslo.                                                                                           which are required to report arrests of
  Told that the plane to Norway was still on                                                       Macedonians in foreign countries or those
time, Suzana Gorgiovska began talking about                                                        found using false papers, send those reports
her ordeal at the Norwegian embassy trying                                                         only every three months. The official, who
to get a visa, so that she could, at 70, visit                                                     did not want his name used because he said
her son and see her year-old granddaughter                                                         his comments could be taken as critical of his
“before I die.”                                                                                    ministry, explained that this allows arrested
                                                                                                   people to apply quickly, before police have
  “I have asked four times for a Norwegian                                                         been notified.
visa,” she said at the time, in 2008, “and          Ivo Kotevski, a spokesman for
always have been denied. I have never been          the Ministry of the Interior.                  Questioning Biometric Passports
to Norway, so my son had taken care of all                                                           The hope, said the official, lies with a
of the documents. For a whole year I was          from Struga, was arrested at the Kafasan         newly formed national visa center and new
hoping to go there, to see my one-year-old        checkpoint at the Albanian border, convicted     requirements that embassies immediately
granddaughter. My son asked there [in             and sent to prison for three years for fraud.    inform officials about arrested or expelled
Norway] what it would take to bring his                                                            Macedonians. Another aid is thought to
mother to visit. My son works there as a            Polozani, the wife of Mersim Polozani, the
                                                  former Macedonia minister of justice, was        be the biometric passports which contains
doctor.”                                                                                           embedded information that can be read only
                                                  accused of promising papers, taking money
  She said she has never left Macedonia,          and then just leaving her victims stranded.      by a special scanner.
but after she left the Norwegian embassy in       Police said she used her tourist agency, Anila     One Macedonian lawyer doubts these
Skopje one time, “a man with a mustache           Marketing, and promised six people from          changes will work.
called my younger son and offered help…           Struga that she would provide them with US
the man claimed that he knew high officials                                                          The lawyer, who deals with “assistance”
                                                  and Canada documents. The price she asked,
in the Macedonian government who have                                                              for acquiring passports and visas, would
                                                  said Kotevski, was $8,000 for a single visa.
people inside the embassy. That man asked                                                          not allow his name to be used because he is
for €1,700 to help us with the visa.                 Kotevski said citizens who complained         known among those seeking his help.
                                                  were not accused as criminals “because they
  “I have never broken any law, so I asked                                                            He said he understands how getting false
                                                  didn’t commit any crime, despite the fact that
my younger son to forget that man. But …                                                           passports and visas is done. He said the way
                                                  they planned to do that.” He said that policy
[he] persuaded me that there was no other                                                          used to get around the legal system is to use
                                                  is important because it helps authorities to
options.”                                                                                          a high resolution scanner. Under the law
                                                  arrest counterfeiters.
                                                                                                   these scanners are generally forbidden and are
  When someone who was also traveling                Polozani was far from alone in that           allowed only under a special permit from the
to Norway pointed out to her that her visa        business. In April, Kotevski said, police        police.
was false, she just waved her hand and said,      arrested three people who had made and
“What they can do to me? I’m just an old                                                             “I know in Bulgaria, there is one,” he said.
                                                  sold false Schengen visas. Kotevski said that
lady.”                                                                                             “They can make false visas with it, but they
                                                  a German visa good for the Schengen region
                                                                                                   can fake money as well. I heard also that
  Gorgiovska got to Norway in 2008.               cost €1,500, one for Belgium €1,200 and
                                                                                                   biometric passports can be made.”
                                                  one for Italy €1,000. When police raided the
“Assistance” a Double Risk                        houses of the three arrested, they found 50         He said he did not know whether any
   But her success using such a go-between        false Schengen visas. And they found that the    biometric passport had been compromised,
is not guaranteed with fixers, police said.       trio had advertised in the Macedonian daily,     adding that the skills to do it lie with a
Dealing with someone who promises a less          Dnevnik.                                         younger generation. The old forger’s skills
painful way to get out of Macedonia can be                                                         will not work for this new task, he said, but
                                                    Kotevski said, “This is a serious problem.
a gamble, and not just because it risks arrest.                                                    ”young hackers who mess with credit cards”
                                                  Every day the MOI gets a request for a new
Some people make promises, take money and                                                          have the kinds of skills needed. He said, “The
                                                  Macedonian passport. A citizen claims to
never deliver, said Ivo Kotevski, a spokesman                                                      trick is to figure out how to break the code
                                                  have lost a previous passport, but we suspect
for the Ministry of the Interior (MOI).                                                            hidden inside the biometric passport.”
                                                  that they travel with a false visa, have been
  One such person, Emine Polozani, 64,            discovered in some western country and             Since the technology of credit cards is not
                                                  deported. Lots of these people ask for a new     very different from that used in biometric

   Airport in Skopje
                                                                                                      they have information from their superiors
                                                                                                      that someone broke the passport code,” he
                                                                                                      said, they will not be extremely careful. And
passports, he said, the same skills used to         passport, produced by Hewlett-Packard, has        another weak link, he said, is that only two
crack credit card codes can be used to defeat       12 elements within the code, but he said one      computer experts work on the immigration
the biometric passport.                             weakness is that it is checked by a computer      enforcement force.
                                                    at any border crossing and guards tend to
  Officials will not discuss biometric passports,                                                       He said, though, that the Macedonian
                                                    trust the computer completely.
saying only that they cannot be defeated, but                                                         passport, because it is made by Hewlett-
the lawyers questioned whether they are right.        “Officers at the border points can assure       Packard, should be as strong as the US
                                                    themselves that a document is valid” by using     passport. The German biometric passport, he
  The lawyer said the Macedonian biometric
                                                    a computer to scan, he said. But “unless          said, is the best protected.

   About Us
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   (OCCRP) is a joint program of the Center for Investigative                 Public Integrity and the International Consortium of Investigative
   Reporting in Sarajevo, the Romanian Center for Investigative               Journalists.
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                                                                                The program’s first project, on energy traders, was awarded
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                                                                              Light Award” for quality investigative journalism under adverse
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                                                                              website have included Stanimir Vaglenov, Alison Knezevich, Sorin
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                                                                              Ozon, Eldina Pleho, Dino Jahić, Aleksandar Božinovski, Xhelal
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                                                                              Dumitru Lazur, Vlad Lavrov, Boris Mrkela, Miranda Patrucic,
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                                                                              Armao, Paul Radu, Bob Samsot, John Holland and Drew Sullivan.
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     The OCCRP project is supported by grants from the United
                                                                              Reporting in Sarajevo.
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   Institute. Also on this site are projects funded in part and done          contact Drew Sullivan at

        MOLDOVA: The Wait and Ways to Beat It
    Moldovans are flocking to get Romanian passports, reclaiming their birthright but also grabbing the perks
  and freedoms that come with citizenship in an EU country. The desire for such a prize is leading to widespread
   corruption, forgery and bribery – and opportunity for shady characters to roam freely in a borderless world.
Written by: Dumitru Lazur                           them the money when I saw
First published on Nov. 17, 2009                    the visa in my passport; after

M      oldovans seeking to move to the              a few days I was in Italy.”
       Schengen area have one tool that               That route is commonly
many others do not—they can ask to claim            followed, said Ghenadie
citizenship of Romania, a process officially        Podsevalov, formerly the
called “regaining of citizenship,” because          head of a department of
the people share a language and once shared         the Ministry of Domestic
mutual territory. That citizenship would            Affairs, involved in fighting
guarantee them a Romanian passport and              organized crime and
membership in the European Union (EU),              familiar with the problem.
which would allow them to move freely               Podsevalov now works as
throughout EU countries.                            a private detective. He
   That tool, though, is not an easy one to         said the Schengen tourist
use, and it is heavily abused. Since 1999,          visa business blossomed
                                                                                     Forged Romanian IDs supposedly issued in Chisinau.
according to a comparison of records and            in Moldova from 1996             --Courtesy Moldavian Ministry of Domestic Affairs
sources, as many as a million Moldovan              to 2006, with many
citizens—one fourth of the country’s                tourist companies sending
population—immigrated, mostly illegally,            Moldovans to work in the
to EU countries. National and international         EU and not on holiday as
organizations figure that anywhere from             they pretended. “They used
600,000 to a million Moldavans work                 to find their clients through
abroad, but the Moldova National Bureau of          Makler newspapers,”
Statistics lists the official number as 350,000.    Podsevalov said. “At the
                                                    beginning, the mediators
  Since 2007, when Romania was granted              worked with EU embassies,
EU membership, forgery of Romanian                  but as soon as Chisinau
passports and ID cards has become a lucrative       was forced to adhere to EU
business, say Moldovan experts.                     policies, tourist companies
   Forgers is that they can turn a complicated      moved to Kiev…It was
procedure that can last five years or so into a     such companies that helped
three-week experience. Grigore Burciu is one        hundreds of thousands of
who has adhered to the law, and although he         people reach the EU and          A counterfeiter arrested by Moldavian police in July 2009.
                                                    never return home.”              --Courtesy Moldavian Ministry of Domestic Affairs
applied for Romanian citizenship in 2004, he
is still registered as a Moldovan and still lives    Donor Pressures
in Chisinau.                                                                                              Probably, Podsevalov said, “this is the
                                                    Trigger Change                                      beginning of the end for go-between
   “Since 2008, I haven’t had any news from                                                             mediators.”
                                                      He said pressure on Moldova from foreign
the consulate,” Burciu said. “I will probably
                                                    aid donors practically shut down many                 If that happens, it could mean an end to
receive Romanian citizenship at the end of
                                                    mediator companies, although he said he             the advertisements of “Schengen visa help”
the year, so now I’m waiting. What else can
                                                    thinks that those who remained in business          in the Makler newspapers that Podsevalov
I do?”
                                                    were excellent forgers or enjoyed protection        mentioned. But how do mediators get
Using a “Mediator” Firm                             from state officials. “Should police want,”         somebody through and how much does it
                                                    Podsevalov said, “they could throw such             cost for their services?
   Vasile, 28, has his answer. From Truseni
                                                    racketeers in prison.”
village, he got to Italy two years ago, using                                                             A call to a phone listed in the newspaper
a tourist visa issued by a “mediator” firm.           Things may be changing, though, even              was answered by a woman, who asked, “Is it
When the visa expired, he stayed in Italy and       for those who have remained, Podsevalov             your first trip to the Schengen area?” To the
has worked illegally in construction in Rome        said. In October, a notice appeared on the          answer, yes, she said, “A 10-day tourist’s visa
since. “I paid €2,000 for the visa,” said           web page of the Schengen Visa Application           costs €2,000. You pay the money after you
Vasile, who asked that his last name not be         Centre, saying that faked supporting                receive the passport with the visa included.
used. “The mediators turned me overnight            documents were on the rise and the embassies        And you do not have to pay advance money.
into a truck driver in a private company.           will deal with the abusive practice with a          As a rule, the procedure lasts for one month.
They perfected a fake driver’s license, which       thorough verification of documents, possibly        Do not worry; you will receive a valid visa.
was also submitted to the consulate. I paid         “with the help of Moldovan authorities.”            You will be able to enter Italy. Further on,
it’s your business whether you come back or

Using Kiev
  Questioned further, she said only an ID
card and passport were needed. “We’ll take
care of the rest of the documents,” she said.
“….You will have to go to the Kiev consulate
for an interview. But there is no need to
worry. We shall teach you how to speak
  But why Kiev, when there is an Italian
consulate in Chisinau, she was asked. Her
answer: “We work only with Kiev consulates.
In Chisinau it is much more complicated.”
  At the headquarters of a firm that advertises
help in getting Schengen visas, on the
fourth floor of a grey block of flats from the
Brezhnev era, three women answered ringing
phones. One came to answer questions and
outlined fees and visa terms, asking for the
same documents the woman in the phone call
had asked for. This woman, who was blond
and looked to be about 30, said, “In a week,
we shall prepare the visa folder and program
for you at the Kiev office for submitting the
documents…we shall teach you how to speak
and what to say with the (Kiev) consulate
employees. Don’t be afraid. Only fools are
rejected.”                                            Newspaper ads offer help in getting visas,
                                                      including for Schengen zone.
  Asked if an applicant needed to supply
a work record or a university diploma, she
answered curtly: “No. I told you the only             In turn, according to police reports and         A Moldovan housewife who lives in
thing we need is the passport and ID. Just          interviews with those familiar with the          Calarasi, she tried to get a visa to Germany,
that.”                                              process, his customers ask the eventual          where she has relatives. The relatives
                                                    owners of the documents, Moldovans who           promised that they would provide all her
   How are the documents forged? According
                                                    want to reach the EU, for fees from €2,000       food and accommodations. She spent a week
to the Ministry of Domestic Affairs, from
                                                    up to €4,000. That price includes any            collecting the package of documents she
January to November of this year, there were
                                                    passport work as well as accompaniment to        needed—work record card, secondary school
arrests of members of 40 criminal groups that
                                                    the destination country.                         certificate, medical insurance. She took them
specialize in forging documents for arranging
                                                                                                     and her passport to the German Consulate in
illegal migration. That is a jump from statistics   Avoiding Risks Brings Long Wait                  Chisinau.
on forgers arrested in the past three years,
when the ministry said police in Chisinau had         If frontier guards discover the documents,       “The official asked me if I had a job. My
arrested only 21 for forgery of this type.          Moldovan and Romanian legislation provides       answer was I had no official job…he inquired
                                                    a huge fine or up to two years in prison.        how I was earning a living. I told him that
   Forgers, according to law enforcement            Hungarian legislation has similar provisions.    my husband, who works legally in Portugal,
officials, usually cooperate with criminal
                                                      Burciu, the young man who has waited           supports me financially….The man looked
groups specializing in illegal migration to EU
                                                    years for his Romanian citizenship, does         doubtfully at me, then urged me to pay the
states. In August, the Center for Fighting
                                                    not hide his intention to leave for Italy as     €35 (visa fee) and told me to come back to
Human Trafficking under the Ministry of
                                                    soon as he gets a Romanian passport. He          the consulate in 10 days.”
Domestic Affairs arrested Serghei Ivanenco,
43, for counterfeiting Romanian documents.          acknowledged that he knows that many                There was no assurance of a visa, primarily,
In an official report of the Ministry of            Moldovans reached that country with fake         the man told her, because it was likely she
Domestic Affairs, Ivanenco was quoted as            passports, but considers that too expensive      would not return to Moldova. Ten days
confessing that he had been in business for         and, at the same time, not worth the risk.       later, her fear came true—rejection. Reason:
four years and had made fake documens                 And what of those who have neither             lack of sufficient proof she would return
only at the order of those who arrange illegal      Burciu’s patience nor a willingness to use the   home when her visa expired. Her wait and
migration, and that he was paid about €50-          mediators? The wait, for those like Maria,       her €35 were for nothing.
€150 for each document.                             42, can be long and end in sadness.

                                   UKRAINE: Visa Inequality
  One of many companies in Ukraine charges significant fees for visas from various embassies and guarantees a
  positive result, without requiring a visit to the embassy. Ordinary citizens who follow the rules face a grueling
                                         and sometimes humiliating ordeal.
Written by: Vlad Lavrov, Korrespondent magazine     A Pair of No-Comments                              “Only the
First published on Nov. 17, 2009                                                                     coroner can give

                                                      The embassy’s press office refused any         a 100 percent
       usinesses in Ukraine that say they can       additional comment. And it also refused
       skirt the system and help get visas,                                                          guarantee”, said
                                                    comment on another, different aspect of the      Roman when
       residence permits, second citizenships       visa process—a major consulting agency that
and even honorary consulates are flourishing,                                                        responding to
                                                    makes things like visas happen for those with    doubts about the
but just getting to travel to Europe for            enough money.
ordinary citizens is nothing short of an                                                             services.
ordeal.                                               The tough and often humiliating procedure        UK visa is
                                                    that ordinary Ukrainians have to undergo to      one of a number
  That ordeal can come at unexpected times.         get visas provides a window of opportunity to
Hennadiy Zvyahintsev, the art director of                                                            of agencies
                                                    the numerous consulting agencies that serve      that specialize
Smerechyna Folk Ensemble from a mountain            as intermediaries between applicants and the
town in western Ukraine said he got an                                                               in helping to
                                                    consulates.                                      acquire Schengen
invitation for the group to perform at North                                                                                 Ukrainian passport
East England’s Billingham International               When it comes to UK visas, which the           visas. UK visa
Folklore Festival in the summer. He launched        Smerechyna dancers were seeking on their         charges from €170 for a single-entry visa
the visa process, confident of success because      own, one of the major agencies working in        from the Polish embassy to €1,400 for a 360-
the troupe had traveled and performed in            the field is UKvisa Consulting Group. It         day multiple-entry visa from the Portugese
many countries, including Austria, Italy and        guarantees getting a UK visa for €200 more       Embassy. The company guarantees a positive
Romania, all EU members.                            than the visa fee, regardless of the past visa   result, without the client even having to visit
                                                    history and it goes as far as promising to       the embassies or have an interview.
   But, he said, he was told there would be no      pay the money back in case of refusal. “We
visa when he went to the British Consulate          are operating only using legal consulting        Who Are the Owners?
in Kiev. Having paid for the trip, the group        and organizational mechanisms and help             Who owns such firms? In some cases, they
tried to persuade consulate officials that all 45   those who have been refused visas, using         are owned by individuals from the country
performers, young and old, had no intentions        our experience and connections”, claims the      that would grant the visa. That was the case
to stay in England and they showed consulate        agency’s website, boasting of seven years in     in a recent scandal implicating the Czech
employees photos, videos and awards for past        the business, more than 3,000 clients and        consulate in Lviv, where applicants had
performances.                                       “perfect knowledge of the British bureaucracy    to pay approximately $17 to a call center
   When nothing persuaded them to grant a           system”.                                         company Jihomoravska provozni just to
visa, Smerechyna (Silver Fir Tree) performers         After an experience calling the company, an    schedule an appointment at the consulate.
tried a final tactic, performing in front of        Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting           The company belonged to Czech citizen
the Embassy’s doors. It had worked before,          Project (OCCRP) reporter asked the embassy       Vlastimil Valenta, who, according to the
in 2007, when a children’s dance group              about it and got a no-comment.                   Czech news agency CTK, is an acquaintance
performed for three hours in front of the                                                            of the Czech Ambassador to Ukraine, Jaroslav
French consulate and got their visas.                 Here is what the no-comment was about.
                                                    The company was asked about what it could        Basta, and was selected without a tender. It
  Silver Fir Tree dancers were not so lucky,        do for a student who had been refused a visa     quotes Czech Television (CT) as reporting
even though he was invited inside. A man            because of the lack of a bank account with a     that 161 Ukrainians are presently demanding
who, from behind a bullet-proof glass               balance or any income, but wanted to go to       compensation from the Czech Republic for
window, introduced himself as the consul,           the UK for Christmas.                            the compulsory phone registering. Five call
but said no.                                                                                         centers operated at Czech diplomatic offices
                                                       A UKvisa representative who gave his name     abroad, but only in Ukraine was the center
  Now, Zvyahintsev is less confident about          as Roman responded that the company’s            administered by a Czech company. The
the spring season, because having a UK              €242 package carried a 99.9 percent              Czech consul in Lviv, Jaroslav Hradil , left
refusal stamp in a passport raises suspicions at    guarantee, if all necessary documents could be   his post in February, shortly after the Czech
other consulates.                                   collected. The list of the documents required    Foreign Ministry cancelled the system of
   UK Ambassador Leigh Turner, however,             would be given only after the company got        compulsory telephone registration.
did not share the doubts of his consular            a non-refundable down payment of €42 and
                                                    a letter explaining the difficulties that the      Roman Skrepek, a spokesperson for
officer. In a special entry in his web-diary, he                                                     the Czech Police Bureau for Detection of
wrote about the incident, saying he had no          applicant had applying last time. The services
                                                    included a coaching session on how to act at     Corruption, said that while the police have
doubts that the dancers were real performers                                                         not started an investigation in the case, as it
but that the “system simply wouldn’t work           the visa application center and an escort who
                                                    would take the client to the entrance.           has been reported in the media, he cannot
if someone had the power to arbitrarily                                                              exclude that one might begin soon.
overturn [their] decision.”
                                                                                                                                 A Visit to Visa Hell
 Dealing with foreign embassies and impatient, rude workers is a difficult and sometimes unavoidable part of
 applying for holiday and work visas. But sometimes the standards drop to shocking levels that bring outrage
                                               and attention.
Written by: Vlad Lavrov, Korrespondent magazine
First published on Nov. 17, 2009

         ne vivid example of the treatment
         ordinary people face was the
         widely celebrated case of Ukrainian
Valentyna Maley, who wanted to spend her
vacation in Greece last summer.
  As she recalled it in various media
interviews, it wasn’t the first time she had
visited this Mediterranean country, and so
she had no second thoughts and she bought
a €1,300 tour from a travel agency. And yet
she was refused a visa, on the ground that she
goes to Greece too often; she was required to
come to the Greek Consulate for a personal
   As she recounted her story, when she                                                                                                                                   Greek Consulate in Odessa, Ukraine
appeared and tried to explain her case, the
consulate’s Ukrainian employee told her                                                                                                                                 Outburst Came at Ordeal’s End                                                                                                                                                                                                                Among the other requirements that are
she was not to talk unless she was asked                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           applied individually, these items can be
to. Suddenly, she said, the consul started                                                                                                                      The encounter with such hostility was the                                                                                                                                                                                                          required: police-verified biographies of
yelling at her in Greek, and then started                                                                                                                    end of a long ordeal that Ukrainians who                                                                                                                                                                                                              close relatives; notary-verified photos of the
making faces at her. As she said at the time,                                                                                                                apply for visas must face. In addition to the                                                                                                                                                                                                         apartments or other property the applicant
the consul, Dimitrios Mikhalopulos, started                                                                                                                  regular package of documents, which includes                                                                                                                                                                                                          owns. If the visas are asked for an entire
hitting the bulletproof glass between them, as                                                                                                               passport, application form, and employment                                                                                                                                                                                                            family, all members can be required to
if trying to hit her on the face and slap her.                                                                                                               letter that confirms what the income is and                                                                                                                                                                                                           deposit some money at the bank for the
Shocked, she left.                                                                                                                                           that there is an income, embassies can require                                                                                                                                                                                                        duration of their visas. Ukrainians applying
                                                                                                                                                             a statement from the police that a person has                                                                                                                                                                                                         for visas over 90 days to the Czech Republic,
   This case prompted the Ukrainian foreign                                                                                                                  no other passports, bank statements, a review
ministry to intervene, and, as a result,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           for instance, must submit a medical certificate
                                                                                                                                                             of money flow from and to the applicant, and                                                                                                                                                                                                          that the applicant does not have AIDs, TB or
the Ambassador of Greece apologized to                                                                                                                       even the income statement of the company
Maley. The consul, Mikhalopulos, soon                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              syphilis, and the medical certificate must be
                                                                                                                                                             that has written a letter confirming that the                                                                                                                                                                                                         notarized and certified.
left his post, supposedly due to a scheduled                                                                                                                 applicant works for it.

OCCRP Newsletter
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Bob Samsot, Editor

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  tion           Reporting Project
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A Newsletter of                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Editor
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    the Organized                                                                                                Sorin Ozon, Field
                                                                                                                                                                 Drew Sull
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Đukanović’s Membership Looms, So Do Troubling Questions
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    N° 4 | July 6,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Crime and Corrup
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  tion Reporting                                                                sorinozon@gm                          Editor

                                                                                                                                                                           sot, Edit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  June 1, 2009

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  By CIN / ICIJ |                                                                                                                                                               www.reportingprojec

                                                                                                                                                                  Bob Sam                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                             u, Regional m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          As EU

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Gambling: Sa lva                                                                                                                                                  paulradu
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ontenegrins may have
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           been surprised
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          tion or Scourg
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         that the global                                                                                                                                               Across the region
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              late last year to learn                                                                                                                                                                                    , count ries are
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       arrived in their                                                                                                                                                  that they can use                court ing gamb
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              financial crisis had                                                                                                                                                                                          it to boost reven             lers and
                                                                                                                ject                                                                                           tiny Balkan country.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Newspapers, the Internet,        -                                                                                                                                              broug ht some                     ues in bleak econo the gambling industry, bettin                                                                                                                             A Ne
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        of the dark side                        mic times. But                    g
                                                                                                  orting Pro                                                                                                                                 film painted Montene                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        N° 1       ter of
                                                                                             Rep                                                                                                               and  even a James Bond                                      e                                                                                                                                                                             often associated                       the industry has                                                                                                                             | Oc         the Or
                                                                                Corruption                                                                                                                                            Carlo of Eastern Europe.                                                                                                                                                                                                             with it—social                                                                                                                                                          tober        ga
                                                                                                                                                                                                                gro as the Monte                                                                                                                                                                                                                  corruption and                          ills includ ing crime                                                                                                                                           20, 20 nized Cr
                                                               Crime and                                                                                                                                                                    tree-lined coast, medieval                                                                                                                                                                                            gambling addic                                                                                                                                                                                                   ime

                                                                                                                                                                                                                nation’s mountainous,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           ,                                                                                                                                                                        and
                                                 Organized                                                                                                                                                                             stone ruins set the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                scene for a                                                                                                                                                                                                       tion.                                                                                                                                                                                                        Corru

                                                                                                                                                                       deaths of
                                    ter of the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                walled cities, and

                          A Newslet
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             and private villas.

                                              31, 2008
                                                                                                                                                                                                                 boom in luxury hotels

                                                                                                         d in Puk

                                                                                                                                        t in the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      hammers. And
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           administration of                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           one of the most                                                                                                                                                                 t
                          N° 2 |

                                                                                                                        olvemen                                    njić.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In December, the                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  casino operators                    powerful

                                                                                                                                                   Niko Fra
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                ić announced that
                                                                                                      cted of inv
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        of all, ilia Pavlov,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Minister Milo Đukanov out First Bank (Prva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      assassinated by                        was

                                                                                          n suspe
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      a bullet to the heart

                                                                                                                                                                                               8                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         illici

                                                                                                                                                                                    r 31, 200
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Montenegro would
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      March 7, 2003.

                                                                          ests of me

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  orga          t traf
                                      Eleven                                                           d his ma
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          country’s largest financial

                                                                                                                                                                      | Octobe

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       nized           �icki            Boomuggling
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Salvation or Scourge

                                                                 l arr
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  banka), one of the

                                                                                                                                                      By OCCRP
                                                                                             nić an
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             ng of

                                                  ke severa
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 the Monte-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         major investor in

                                                                                  Ivo Puka
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  institutions and a

                                  Police ma
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     e and

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             corrup cco is a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Bank is majority owned

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Jobs that Have
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  negrin boom. First
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 ing Still
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          a close friend.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          a Hidden

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                ić, two siblings, and

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Human Cost

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             spur                     robb

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ing go ion-dolla

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             watchdog groups,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Members of local

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               t began
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 r busin
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Organized

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     ts say this is just

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Crime and Corrup

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              cal eq with a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                to a de ments of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                   tion parties, and journalis

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               ess to
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Reporting Project                              tion

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               ent’s interests
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          (OCCR P) sent

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                example of the governm of the first
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    almostscholars n: In 19 mathema
                                                                             all                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             adly                     need
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 of reporters through                       a team

                                                            armed and -
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               | gambling:


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               ed ta
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         in              95 tw
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           financial interests                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              out the region to

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   cigare one-thir Europe
                                                  n, some
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    aligning with the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          x mo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 examine public

                                                                            ger                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  uct.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Some tte export d of the wo nd tha
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 small country —

                                        leven me as extremely dan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     records, visit casinos
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    family. ey say their                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        gambling halls                                  and

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ho                                            t
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        the U.S.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 export w, billio s had sim rld’s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                in less space than                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  and shed light

                                         described ers of the under-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      on the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    than 700,000 people                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         secretive industry

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                in tra ed, had ns of cig ply vanish
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        like the                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      . it looked at the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                — seems at times

                                         ous memb arrested, ten by
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      nsit.          myste         are
                                                                                                                                                                                                                     state of Connecticut
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               benefits - badly                            obvious

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            riousl ttes, on
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             The Big BeT

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             and                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    needed jobs in
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               of the prime minister
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      y gotte ce                                                                                               By ICI
                                               been               es and one
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               economies, a boost
                                                                                                                                                                                                                     private corporation
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         J | Oc
                                    rld, have
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Starti it wasn’                                   n los
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ić’s political party                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             for the tax base

                                                        cial forc in
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              new or renovat                               and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      his family. With Đukanov at the end of March,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ng in          t tha
                                            police spe
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ed facilities to replace
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            from                         t my

                                Croatian police as suspec tions of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   the Int                     sterio
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ramshackle buildin
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      handily winning elections
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Invest          ernati team of                us.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               to remain in                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             gs - and at the

                                             n                     ina
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          thousa igative Jou onal Co reporters

                                 by Bosnia with the assass
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     minister is expected                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    cost on families
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      the prime                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    living

                                                                    editor of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             shop owners trying near the casinos,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         docum nds of int rnalists nsortium
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              two years.                                                                                                                                               Photo by CiN

                                 connectionć, owner and an manager,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       power for another

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        leadin ents and ernal ind red ove of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  lawless country,"      charges                                                                                                                                                                                                                             upswing in addictio compete and an
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           "Montenegro is a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       collud g tobacc uncovere

                                  Ivo Puk
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 of the country’s influenti                                                                                                                             By OCCR P | June

                                               and his
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          o                d
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      divert ing with companie how
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Milka Tadić, editor                                                                                                                                                                                  23, 2009                                                                           And they looked

                                                                                                                                                                                            lved in the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       part of the

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              e. "And if you are                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            that often surfaces the corruption
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     marke cigarette minal ne s were
                                                                                                                                                                                �igures invo Jutarnji List.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       pasts, crimina l

                                              njić last
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Monitor magazin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 oney pours in across                                    records and connect

                                                                                                                                                                      d crime

                                                                lav Borove
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     when so much
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         s to the
                                   Niko Fra
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   to its circles you can
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             ts.                          twork
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       to powerful people.                     ions                                                     money
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 europe, with people eastern

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            collides with so
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        government or close
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   s to
                                                    to Krunos of�ice, three
                                                                                                                                                  erties of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Using their influenc                              few regulations.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Big                                    ’s bla
                                                                                                                                                                                                   in                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              — to Tobacco
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      to build monopo

                                       According ice chief’s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Moldova to Roman from

                                                                                                                                     nst the prop

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        whatever you want."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          lies and to corrupt

                                                                                                                                                                                ović from
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              What OCCR P

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             a level of wealth that
                                                                         ice used
                                                                                                                       in raids
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ia pumping      officials - the head                     local

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 share ost sal
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   found raises question

                                              the pol                                                                                                           , Boba Đur cribed as Joc
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     coins into machin

                                                                                                            by police
                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Đukanović has amassed meager government

                                     head of               d and pol pects
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            of Romania’s anti-             about whether
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         es that feed on                                                                                                                     s

                                                                                                   s seized                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     dolla — as it avo and gai it for pro
                                                                                                                                                     the two
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          their      money launder                                                            governments are

                                                 n resiste                                                                                                                      des
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         his                                                                                                                                         paychecks and

                                                                                                                                                                                             o ran his
                                                                                           Weapon ders.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       ing task force is                                                            doing
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   n ma
                                                                                                                                                                    ro, was
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      rs in                                       �it
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         is hard to explain                                                                                                                                                                          their fantasies of                                                                    enough to protect

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             taxes ided bil
                                     of the me due them; two
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               growi                                     rket
                                                                                                                                                      Monteneg and the man wh
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     investigation for
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Some believe his wealth

                                                                                                                                  e and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     wealth. in one                     quick                                                                                      citizens. Regulat

                                                                                           recent mur
                                                                                                                    r his nam
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              the glong numb while rec ns of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         money launder                                                                 ors in
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         ing - these some countries simply close

                                                                        t in the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         salary over the years.                                                                                                                                                                      family’s tragedy,

                                                sub                                                                                           t                                               enko

                                      force to                                                                                     with tha
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    owners take advanta

                                                                                                       ice to clea
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             A rec

                                                          were hur d near the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    in the tobacco smugglin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Bulgarian father

                                                                                                                                                                                 er was Mil
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ers of         ruitin
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               their eyes

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             turne be. The
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   ent Ital
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          open their hands

                                                 of�icers                                                           disagreed
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             ge of regulations
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          stems from his days                                                                                                                                                                          found the lure                                                                                           to payoffs, accordin and

                                                                                            with pol
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 tobacc smokers g
                                                                                                                                                                     The oth
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            ian seiz
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       so strong    so lax they are
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           ors place the prime
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    that he stole from

                                       and two                      este                               ić said he not represent
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           eye to out, did
                                                                                                                                                        �inances. ić from Belgrade.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     ure of

                                                      r were arr
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          prosecution records,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          business. Italian prosecuta conspiracy by                                                                                                                                                                                 The public, meanwh ignored entirely.                                                                 g to
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         o ind

                                                                                in the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    medical trust fund. comatose daughter’s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           to the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          the tra the smug not merel ustry, as d
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     while other countrie

                                            ggle. Fou and the others                                              uld
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         memb European
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        of                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               seem content to
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   gambling addictio ile, must deal with

                                                                                                         and wo                                          Kuzmanov
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           minister at the center
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         LM and

                                       stru                                                                                                                                               were
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             y tur          it
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         levels de at the gling —

                                                                                             strategy tanić.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     that                                                                                                                                                                                                                benefits come and pocket whatever
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        and the Italian Mafia

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     n                  would er states Commun

                                                                                                                                                                            ić cousins
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                highe it mana a blind
                                                                                                                                                                                                  of hitmen
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          n and crime related

                                        Serbian a.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The tease of easy
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Montenegrin officials quantities of cigarettes
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ro ciga

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   the betting world.                                                            let operators do

                                                                                                                                                             The Matan part of a group lords
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                to set          ity an
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         cash during a bleak

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       involv have fur
                                                                                              Robert Ma
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      st cor
                                                                                        y                                      were des
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         please.                                     as they

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ther tle litigat d 10
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               nt politician in    economic decade

                                                                           d to identif
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       smuggled huge
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Those                              porat

                                         Zagreb are
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            years the pre-emine connections                           throughout the

                                                                                                                                                              pected as Bulgarian dru
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       follow revela                                                  They                           exp            ion
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    starting in the 1990s,

                                                           ice decline yer for
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           over the past 20

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             have t in cigare osed the that
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      in Februar y, a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   has fueled a gamblin                 region
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               ere are some close

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            tio                                                                                                                                Photo: a truck bed
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            for about 10 years                                                                            47, has become                                                                                                                               Bulgarian casino

                                                                                                                                                                                                    the drug
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      inquir ed, helpe ns, and
                                                                                                                          atia.                           sus
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Unlike in Las Vegas,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  pro�its ues unab
                                                     h pol
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Milo Đukanović,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               businessmen.                                                               g boom.

                                                                                                 The                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       �ight also com tte smug ir
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              lly allege


                                                                pović, law ni and S.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  was charged with

                                            Althoug                                                          from Cro
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   ors did not specifica
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         a hugely successful                                                                                                                                                                                           the American
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ies, law d lead
                                                                                                                                                                                       ving into
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        others                                                                                                            ated.
                                                                                                                                                          that liqu
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        conspiring to kill

                                                                                                                                      d about
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Montenegro and                                                                                                                                                                                 gambling city that
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  mi                             relati rivaling
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            although prosecut
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  traf�ic                         gli
                                                     Zoran Pili                                as hitmen
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     But an investig
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                di Fin
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            king tted publi ng.
                                                                                                                                                                        ić, was mo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   to go           tha                                                                                                           Indeed
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  in what police

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             personally from                                                                                                                                                                                        call his other busines rivals
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                attracts tourists


                                                                                                                          e arreste

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   illicit treaty to ts, and pro vernmen t                            Sim
                                          the men, ić, 23, Amir Ma
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         vely            those
                                                                                                                                                                                                                             that Đukanović profited
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         between his two                                                                          houses in six countrie of gambling
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           , wi
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       boasts a glitzy clientele                    and

                                                                                                                                                           when Joc garia in the mid
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 larges ilarly, thi                in tob          cly to       is fas         lig
                                                                                                              sins wer the Serbian
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       t reinv ht pena of narco th
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             rin daily Vijesti                                                                                                   drug trafficking.                          s:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           cigare        cra                           t                                                    acco.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      of stars and

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   tte tra ck down mises of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  winners are busines s shows the real

                                                                         t the thr
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Photo by Monteneg

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                n are attracting
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       ed gu nada and                                         multin
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 death on a busy                                                            , preying on the

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                                                                                                                                              ice had

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              gro                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     and prospering
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ilty to

                                                                                                            border as s said that pol their
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              interest outside Monteneto join the European                                                                                                                                                                                                               with                            mainly on the backs
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      g the
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Continued on Page

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                                                                                         Photo: 24
                                                             Robert Mat
    Honorary Consuls: Wealth Can Beget Wealth
    The designation of Honorary Consuls often is often a ticket to unfathomable convenience for those lucky
  passport holders, who gain immunity for nearly every wrongdoing they may commit. The title and status goes
                            almost exclusively to the wealthy, privileged or corrupt.
Written by: Roman Shleynov - Moscow, Vlad Lavrov    Internet, not all sites are reliable. One         Bulgaria in Bitola, last year withdrew a
- Ukraine, Aleksandar Bozinovski - Macedonia, and   that gives its addresses in the Netherlands       demand for €500 donations from tourist
Stevan Razlog – Serbia                              and Spain ( had a               companies in Bitola to fund a Bulgarian
First published on Nov. 17, 2009                    phone number that did not work and the            national day. The companies had complained

             ealth and connections are the          Netherlands address was that of a hotel.          publicly that they felt they were being
             building blocks to a rarified          The one in Spain could not be traced to a         exposed to extortion.
             form of freedom from travel            legitimate business.
                                                                                                        Not every country in Eastern Europe,
restrictions, the title of honorary consul.                                                           though, is re-examining the role of honorary
                                                    Some Problems Arise
  The honorary consul status is outlined                                                              consuls or seems ready to abolish the
                                                       Because of various problems, though,           positions. The title, in many cases, can convey
in the Vienna Convention on Consular
                                                    some countries are re-examining the role of       more information about prior connections
Relations of 1963 and describes a welter of
                                                    honorary consuls to their countries. Liberia,     than about helping a country the honorary
privileges and opportunities, as well as the
                                                    in October, voided the practice of giving such    consul represents.
responsibilities of an honorary consul. Those
                                                    representatives diplomatic passports, saying
duties, for a post that carries no stated salary,                                                       In Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Milorad
                                                    that in doing so, it was falling into step with
include enhancing economic, scientific and                                                            Majkic, a controversial businessman born in
                                                    practices of other counties. Without offering
cultural development of the country a person                                                          Croatia and living in Serbia, owns the biggest
                                                    details, it stated that anyone who purported
represents.                                                                                           chain of slots clubs and serves as the honorary
                                                    to be an honorary consul from any of a half-
   This status and title can be impressive, as      dozen countries that it named, was “doing so      consul of the Republic of the Congo to
are the stated responsibilities, but just like      fraudulently.”
virtually every other means of unrestricted
travel and particular business opportunities,
it is on sale, and often goes to those with
connections. The position also allows the
holder to stay in his home country and
represent the interests of a foreign country
and deal in its exports.
   In Russia, offers
a description of the honorary consul that
includes elements that would pique anyone’s
interest: “diplomatic passport and visa-free
travel all over the world…right to bring three
cars to the country without import duty and
to register the cars as the consul…the right
to have a red diplomatic vehicle registration
                                                      Naum Kaichev, Bulgaria’s representative in
                                                                                                        Valeriy Palchuk, honorary
  It continues. The status opens “vast                Macedonia--Courtesy of Nova Makedonija
                                                                                                        consul to Oman in Ukraine.
opportunities…access to the export resources
of the country you are representing and its
                                                      The Croatia government was stung by             BiH. He took over his casino company,
export quotas…allows transfer of unlimited
                                                    accusations that the honorary consul of           established in Congo, from a man who had
sums of money in cash across a border…
                                                    Croatia to the Swiss Confederation, Waldo         fled from Yugoslavia because of a conflict
luggage is not checked at customs… get
                                                    Bernasconi, a doctor, was implicated in a         with criminals.
many useful acquaintances in business circles
                                                    scandal involving sexual assault of a 12-year-
and top…institutions…”
                                                    old female patient. In an October press           A Connected Network
  A Moscow jurist, who says he can assist in        release, the government said that Prime
                                                                                                         In Russia, co-founders of “The League
obtaining this status and says those privileges     Minister Jadranka Kosor had requested an
                                                                                                      of Honorary Consuls” in 2002 included at
are real, says the price begins at $90,000,         analysis of all its 61 honorary consuls. The
                                                                                                      least three friends of Vladimir Putin, now
but he did not want his name used because           move came, according to the press release,
                                                                                                      the country’s prime minister and then its
the “topic is not too open.” He did not want        because the prime minister considered that
                                                                                                      president. According to the state register of
to divulge any details, saying only that the        the involvement of Bernasconi in a scandal
                                                                                                      organizations, those were Viktor Khmarin,
process is complicated and clients might be         had harmed “Croatia’s image in the world.”
                                                                                                      who studied at Leningrad State
sensitive to his revealing it.
                                                     There are varying problems elsewhere. In
                                                                                                        University with Putin, Sergey Fursenko,
  As with many things offered on the                Macedonia, Naum Kaichev, who represents

who created the country house compound           construction holding company Kyivmiskbud,                the easiest honorary consulates to get are
“Ozero” near St. Petersburg with Putin, and      and a member of parliament (Chile);                      those of African countries and the hardest,
Yuri Kovaltchuk, who also was a founder          Nver Mhitaryan, head of construction                     those of countries within the European
of “Ozero” and is the head of “Russia”,          company Poznyakizhilbud (Colombia);                      Union. Costs start at €50,000 and the process
the St. Petersburg bank considered a wise        Oleh Svynarchyk, who runs automobile                     can take a couple of years. A single hour of
choice for anyone who considers Putin a          manufacturer Bohdan (Seychelles Islands);                consulting with CFC costs €300.
friend. Another co-founder of the league         Ihor Balenko, who with French retail
                                                                                                             Besides CFC, there have been attempts by
was Taimuraz Bolloev, the former head of         giant Auchan owns the country’s largest
                                                                                                          foreign businesses to work in this market.
Baltica Brewing Company and now the head         supermarket chain, Furshet (Peru). Valeriy
                                                                                                          For example, the Russian company Elma
of Olympstroy, the Russian state corporation     Palchuk, with his son, vice consul Vyacheslav
                                                                                                          Travel, and the Hungarian Afrika Centrum
responsible for preparations for the Olympic     Palchuk, deals in cars, grain export and
games in Sochi in 2014. As honorary consul,      tourist business with Oman, to which
                                                                                                          php). Obtaining a consulate through Elma,
Khmarin, in northwest Russia, represents the     he is the honorary consul. However, the
                                                                                                          according to its materials, costs from $70,000
Seychelles Islands; Fursenko, the Bangladesh     prosecutor’s office of Crimea is investigating
                                                                                                          to $1 million, depending on the country’s
Republic; Kovaltchuk, Thailand. Bolloev, at      the misuse of funds and possible credit
                                                                                                          closeness to the EU. In 2008, Africa Centrum
the time of the founding, represented Brazil.    violations at the Artek Children’s Camp
                                                                                                          advertised honorary consulate, trade attaché,
                                                 during the period that the elder Palchuk
  OCCRP reporters tried to contact each                                                                   or the ambassador positions, or a diplomatic
                                                 headed it. The prosecutor’s office declined to
of the four to discuss their duties and their                                                             passport or a citizenship of the Central
                                                 offer additional details.
achievements, but none answered a letter of                                                               African Republic starting at €50,000. The
inquiry.                                           Prior connections are not everything,                  company stressed that the country was very
                                                 though, according to the websites offering               rich in gold, diamonds, platinum and other
  In Ukraine, wealthy and connected men
                                                 assistance in gaining such a post to                     nonferrous metals and that its government
who have become honorary consuls and the
                                                 Ukrainians—at a considerable price. The                  would offer all possible assistance to
countries they represent include Volodymyr
                                                 biggest is CFC ( which notes that             compensate the costs.
Polyachenko, honorary president of

  What’s Available on the Dark Side
  Visas, passports, letters of invitation from businesses to prospective employees—all have a place in the market
  that supplies fraudulent or “arranged” documents for travel or work.
                                                                                 Milorad Lukovic, also known as Milorad Ulemek, but
    Investigations across the region by reporters with the Organized             popularly known as the mobster “Legija (the legionnaire)”
                                                                                 is shown in a diplomatic passport from the Serbian
  Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) have turned                     government of Slobodan Milosevic.
  up many ways to bend or break the law in obtaining identity
  documents, as opposed to using the regular legal procedures.
    Here are some findings:
  •	 In Moldova, those who desire a Schengen visa may arrange it
    for €2,000 and just supply a passport and an ID card, and one
    company said its representatives take care of all other necessary
    documents, and solve visa problems through the Kiev consulate.
    They even teach applicants how to answer interview questions at
    the consulate.
  •	 In Russia, where the Federal Migration Service says 9,902 people
    in the country were revealed to have forged documents in the
    first 10 months of 2009, compared to 6,475 in all of 2008, a
    six-month business multi-visa to Germany is available from one
    country for €900. No visit to the embassy is entailed. The official        •	 In Bulgaria, agencies offer forged certificates to prove Bulgarian
    visa, which would require many other documents and at least one              ancestry for someone seeking Bulgarian citizenship.
    visit to an embassy, would be €35-€60.                                     •	 In Bosnia and Herzegovina, where residents cannot look forward
  •	 In Serbia, visas to some EU countries (France, Germany, Sweden)             to visa-free travel soon, one company offered to make a caller a
    are available, said one employee, through someone “who works                 member of a board to qualify for a visa.
    at the embassy, someone who can also arrange to pull back” a               •	 In Ukraine, a representative said the one company’s €242 package
    rejected passport before it gets the black stamp.                            carried a 99.9 percent guarantee of getting a visa to the UK for
  •	 In Macedonia, a visa to Norway costs €1,700 and visas to the                someone who had been denied before, and would offer a coaching
    USA and Canada up to €8,000, but there is no guarantee they are              session on how to act at the visa application center and an escort
    authentic.                                                                   to take the client to the entrance.


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