Foreign Minister cancels deals with visa application outsourcing companies

Zbigniew Rau cancelled all agreements with outsourcing companies, which had been receiving visa applications since 2011 Darek Delmanowicz/PAP

The Polish foreign minister decided to terminate agreements with outsourcing companies, which had been receiving visa applications from 2011, following the liquidation of 31 diplomatic representations by the then foreign minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, the ministry said on Friday.

Sikorski, once a prominent member of the then ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party and defence minister in its cabinet in the years 2005-2007, has since become one of its fiercest critics and opponents. In the years 2007-2014, he held the post of foreign minister in the centrist Civic Platform (PO) government led by Donald Tusk. In 2019, he was elected an MEP.

In early September, the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper reported that Poland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs might have allowed hundreds of thousands of migrants to come to Europe.

The daily wrote that it was Deputy Foreign Minister Piotr Wawrzyk who had been responsible for consular matters and visas at the ministry. It added that it was also Wawrzyk who had been the author of a draft regulation concerning visa facilitation for temporary workers from about 20 countries, including Islamic countries. The directive assumed "the possibility of employing up to 400,000 workers in Poland," said the newspaper.

It added that "according to unofficial information, a picture of a corruption scandal was emerging, one that enabled the influx of tens of thousands of immigrants to Europe through international recruitment companies." The newspaper indicated that it may have been the recruiters who "were behind the draft regulation of Minister Wawrzyk." The text added that in 2022, about 200,000 migrants came to Poland of whom 130,000 were from Muslim countries.

"This may concern a huge corruption scandal as a result of which hundreds of thousands of immigrants poured into Europe," the newspaper wrote.

Wawrzyk was dismissed in late August.

Also on Friday, Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau decided to carry out a special inspection and audit at the ministry's consular department and all Polish consular representations, and to dismiss Jakub Osajda, the director of the ministry's legal office. 

On Thursday, Daniel Lerman, deputy director of the Department of Organised Crime and Corruption of the National Prosecutor's Office said that in the investigation into irregularities in issuing visas, the prosecutor had so far brought charges against seven people, three of whom were currently under pre-trial detention.

"The investigation was initiated on March 7, based on materials provided by the Central Anticorruption Bureau," Lerman said. "It concerns paid protection in the acceleration of visa procedures in relation to several hundred visas, visa applications submitted over a year and a half. Of these several hundred visas, most were processed through refusal decisions."

He added that visa applications concerned foreigners submitting applications to Polish diplomatic missions in Hong Kong, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, India, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the Philippines and Qatar.

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