Official at Finnish Embassy in Moscow suspected of accepting bribes
An official at the Embassy of Finland in Moscow is suspected of accepting bribes from applicants and of promising to exert her influence on the issuing of their visa applications. However, according to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, the suspect was not in a position to act upon visa decisions.
The former head of the Ministry's Passport and Visa Unit, Juhani Niemelä, says that the suspect is a Russian female resident in Moscow who is no longer employed by the Embassy.
"She was an official who was not in a position to grant visas. Her duties included accepting of visa applications and checking that the forms had been completed correctly, and that the applications contained all required documentation and that the relevant fee had been paid", Niemelä described the official's job.
The suspicions of potential bribery arose at the Embassy two years ago when the official was found to handle visa applications in an irregular way. Apparently, she tried to expedite the handling of certain applications.
As soon as the Embassy and the Ministry started looking into the matter the suspect resigned. According to Niemelä, it is obvious that the official would have been dismissed in any case, as the Embassy had "weighty reasons" to suspect her of accepting bribes.
However, the Embassy never found out the total number of applications the official tried to expedite, nor is it known how much money she earned by her actions.
"When the woman resigned, the case was dismissed", says Niemelä. The Embassy did not file any charges, as internationally it is not the policy to do so nor can a mission with diplomatic immunity start acting locally in this respect, according to Niemelä.
The Embassy did not wish to make the matter public earlier. Moreover, both the former Ambassador René Nyberg and the Embassy's Head of the Visa and Consular Section at that time, Tarvo Nieminen, still refuse to comment on the matter. So do the present Ambassador Harry Helenius and the current Head of the Visa and Consular Section, Anneli Nummelin.
In Finland's Consulate General in St. Petersburg, another suspicious case related to travel documents has been discovered.
A Russian firm called VIP-Service International, located in St. Petersburg, promises to arrange its clients a Greek, Polish, Slovakian, or Belgian EU passport and dual-citizenship at the price of EUR 40,000 to 50,000.
"The company advertises on its web site how easy and nice it is to travel with the new passport around the world", Consul Martti Ruokokoski marvels.
On Thursday, Finland's Minister of the Interior Kari Rajamäki and his Russian counterpart Raskhid Nurgalyev agreed in Petroskoi that the two states would organise joint operations and intensify the exchange of operative and other information in order to prevent illegal immigration, human trafficking, and vehicle crime, as well as the illegal trade in wood products.
Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland