Guyana not probing U.S visa fraud -Crime Chief

Guyana not probing U.S visa fraud   -Crime Chief

The investigative arms of the Guyana Police Force may be tied with relation to that alleged visa racket that may have taken place at the Georgetown Embassy of the United States because of diplomatic conventions.

Deputy Commissioner of Police and Crime Chief, Seelall Persaud on Monday revealed to News Source that the Guyana Police Force is not investigating any aspect of the alleged visa racket.

In a telephone interview, Mr. Persaud explained that “because the alleged crime took place in the U.S Embassy, it creates a jurisdiction issue because it’s really U.S property and involves a crime committed against the U.S involving the U.S official or officials”. He said the Guyana Police Force would only become involved in the probe if a request is made by the United States through the local embassy. The Crime Chief said no request has been made and he does not intend to ask any questions on the issue.

When questioned about whether the police should investigate the allegations since a number of Guyanese have been fingered in the alleged fraud, Mr. Persaud was adamant that there was no role for local investigators since it was a crime committed within the confines of the U.S Embassy that may involve U.S Embassy personnel.

He said it does not matter either that the alleged meeting places for the racket were places outside of the Embassy compound in Georgetown. “The persons who paid for the visas got what they paid for, it is a U.S issue”, the Deputy Commissioner of Police said.

The United States has not shared any information with Guyana on the alleged racket.

The U.S Department of State last week confirmed that it was investigating allegations of a visa racket at the Georgetown Embassy involving a former Consul Officer who was based at the location.

The State Department and US Officials based in Guyana have not offered much more on the investigations.

However, persons familiar with the probe which is being headed by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) have named former Consul Officer, American Ed Durante as the person at the centre of the alleged racket which may have hauled in millions of dollars.

The alleged visa racket is being described by persons familiar with the probe, as an elaborate scheme which allegedly involved the consul officer and a number of locals who would meet at various city restaurants and hang out bars to facilitate transactions. Reports state that persons were being asked to pay as much as US$40,000 to be guaranteed a non-immigrant visa.

The current fee for a U.S non-immigrant visa application is US$160. There are reports that the investigators believe he was acting with other persons at the embassy in Georgetown and they have been pressing for names of the other persons who might have been involved.

It is also being reported that the FBI is paying close attention to the man’s money trail and the businessmen he met and spent time with while on duty in Guyana. It is believed that the visa scam may have netted hundreds of thousands of U.S dollars and the scam is also being linked to a Georgetown businessman who was killed at a city hotel.It is unclear whether the man’s murder is related to the racket or his alleged involvement in its operations.

Earlier this year, a Guyanese man was arrested and charged in a visa fraud case after it was discovered that he was allegedly offering persons visas for as much as US$20,000. He also pretended to be a staff of the U.S Embassy.

(Filed: 8th July, 2013)

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