European Commission has ‘no information confirming’ Malta medical visas allegations

Replying to a parliamentary question by MEP Mario Borghezio, the Commission said that allegations of visas being issued fraudulently should be investigation by the competent national authority

The European Commission has told an MP that it has no information suggesting that Malta illegally issued some 88,000 Schengen visas to Libyan citizens.

“According to statistics on short stay visas that the Commission publishes every year, Malta did not process any visa applications in Libya in 2015 and 2016. Like other member states, Malta has closed its visas sections in Libya,” Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopolous said in reply to a parliamentary question by MEP Mario Borghezio of the far-right Lega party in Italy.

The story originally broke in 2016, when it was alleged that then health ministry official Neville Gafa had made millions of euros through a racket selling medical visas to Libyan nationals starting in 2014. A police investigation into the allegations had cleared Gafa of wrongdoing.

“It has emerged that 88,000 Schengen visas and an unknown number of visas for healthcare reasons have been sold illegally to Libyan citizens by Maltese Government officials (the majority of visas appear to have been sold at the Maltese Consulate in Tripoli),” Borghezio said in his question to the Commission.

He stressed that such visas could be used by holders to move freely across Europe, “thereby jeopardizing EU security”.

“This system could also be exploited by members of the Islamic State still present in Libya,” added the MEP, while asking the Commission to explain how it intended to respond the “these illegal sales, which undermine European security” and whether an investigation into the issue would be opened.  

However, in his reply, Avaramopolous stressed that Malta had closed its visas section in Libya and had not processed any applications since 2015.

“The Commission has no information confirming the allegations provided by the Honourable Member. In case of allegations that such visas may be fraudulently issued or that they involve corruption or other criminal activities, it is for the competent national authorities to investigate such allegations,” Avaramopolous said.  

The Commission, he said, had no competence to intervene in individual investigations by national authorities.    

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