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US probing another visa racket at embassy in Guyana

US Embassy, Georgetown, Guyana.

The United States (US) is probing another visa racket allegedly involving another Consular Officer, the State Department has confirmed.

“The Department of State is aware of allegations of improprieties relating to a Consular Officer formerly assigned to Georgetown, Guyana,” according to a statement issued through the embassy here.

The State Department did not provide specifics of the allegation or the probe but stressed that the claims against the officer were being taken seriously and anyone found culpable would be penalised.

“The Department takes all allegations of misconduct by employees seriously. We are reviewing the matter thoroughly.  If the allegations are substantiated, we will work with the relevant authorities to hold anyone involved accountable,” the State Department added.

Well-placed sources said the Consular Officer was taken into the custody of federal agents several weeks ago immediately on his arrival for work inside the embassy compound.

He is currently in Falls Church, Virginia, USA pending the outcome of the investigation.

The officer was said to have frequented Hibiscus Restaurant, Middle Street, Georgetown where a number of visa deals were sealed prior to the applicants’ arrival at the embassy.

Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com) was told that visas were sold for as much as US$40,000 plus sex.

A number of sources believed that the Officer began the visa racket shortly after arriving in July 2011. His tour of duty should have ended in September 2013 but that ended prematurely as a result of the probe.

While here, the US staff member had travelled to the Corentyne and had been seen in the company of shady characters. He had also travelled to neighbouring Suriname believed to be a ready source of Chinese aliens travelling from The Netherlands to Venezeula with the aim of ending up in the US.

The Consular Officer was also said to have been an associate of Imtiaz Roopnarine who was gunned down on January 24 while leaving the Cool Square Guest House, West Ruimveldt.

If the US government’s probe finds the claims to be factual, it would be the second time in 13 years that a US Consular Officer here in Georgetown would have sold visas.

The first was in March 2000 when then Consular Officer Thomas Carroll was arrested for selling at least 800 visas for entry into the US for between US$10,000 and US$15,000 each.

He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States Government, issuing false visa documents and bribing an official and was sentenced to 21 years imprisonment by a Federal Court in Chicago, Illinois. The sentence was later reduced after he appealed.

Guyanese Halim Khan, now a key figure in the Guyana-Cuba Friendship Society, was also sentenced to 38 months jail for his role in procuring visa-buyers.

Several Guyanese policemen were used as enforcers in the Carroll visa racket.