Czech Diplomat Accused In Ukraine Visa Scam

KIEV, Ukraine -- A senior diplomat from the Czech Republic working in Ukraine will face charges that he pocketed more than a half a million dollars in a visa scam, the Segodnia newpaper reported Thursday.

Jaroslav Basta

Czech ambassador Jaroslav Basta was the ringleader of an illegal visa application registration operation in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, the Korrespondent web magazine reported, citing police investigators working for the Czech Republic's Foreign Ministry.

Basta allegedly oversaw a business running for eight months in 2008, during which Czech consulate workers in Lviv instructed Ukrainians applying for visas to the Czech Republic to register their applications by telephone with a private company, rather than the consulate itself.

The telephone registration procedure was illegal and not Czech Foreign Ministry policy, officials said. Czech diplomatic staff involved will face criminal charges, according to the reports.

More than 30,000 applicants paying the equivalent of 20 dollars per telephone registration transferred money to the company before it ceased operation in January, according to the reports.

The Segodnia article identified a Czech national, allegedly 'a close friend of ambassador Basta', as the owner-operator of the Lviv company registering the visa application phone-ins and accepting the application payments.

Law enforcement officials became aware of the scam after more than 150 Ukrainians applying for Czech visas in Lviv complained to Ukrainian police, who informed their Czech counterparts, according to the Korrespondent report.

Czech embassy staff in Kiev had no comment on the Ukrainian news reports.

Source: DPA


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