The Opposition has formally requested the Auditor-General to investigate allegations of corruption surrounding the issuing of visas from the Maltese consulate in Algeria.
PN deputy leader Beppe Fenech Adami said the party was acting in view of the government’s continued silence in response to the issuing of 6,781 visas between March 2014 and September 2015.
There have also been allegations that applicants were asked to pay extra fees to speed up the process, he said.
Addressing the press yesterday, Dr Fenech Adami claimed Malta was being used as a transit point for Algerian nationals seeking access to countries in Europe, particularly France, abusing of the Schengen agreement.
“We have information of people booking hotels or renting flats in Malta and never showing up,” he said. “Under everyone’s noses, people are arriving in Malta early in the morning and leaving for Paris later that same day.”
He also questioned whether Air Malta was “servicing a scam”, following suggestions that the national airline operated packed flights from Algeria to Malta which returned practically empty.
Party spokesman Francis Zammit Dimech dismissed the government’s response that none of the applicants had been flagged under the Schengen Information System, which allows interested states to raise objections to the issuing of a visa.
He said the system did not absolve border countries from the responsibility of carrying out all necessary checks and ensuring that visa applicants returned to their home country once their visa expired.
10 questions the PN wants answered:
1. The manner in which the visas were issued.
2. Whether the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister and the Maltese police were informed of the alleged abuse.
3. Whether packed Air Malta flights from Algeria routinely returned empty.
4. Whether Algerian nationals routinely left Malta for other European countries, particularly France, on the same day they arrived.
5. Whether the visa application process was deliberately extended and a fee requested to speed up the process.
6. How the Maltese consul and his staff were appointed, whether there was a public call, their financial packages, and whether they had the necessary qualifications.
7. How the consulate offices were selected, the title under which they are held, and how much is being paid for their use.
8. Whether there is any link between the travel agencies through which air tickets to Malta were purchased and the visa applicants’ chances of success.
9. Whether applications came predominantly from any particular geographical region of Algeria.
10. Whether Malta’s international obligations were honoured in issuing the visas.
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