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Germany

German embassy staff suspected of accepting bribes for visas

Staff members at a number of German embassies are under investigation for accepting bribes to issue EU travel visas. The visas are said to have been used in part by human traffickers.

A 500-euro bill changes hands

An unspecified number of staff members have been fired

Staff members at a number of German embassies are suspected of having accepted bribes to issue visas for travel into the European Union, according to a report from weekly news magazine Der Spiegel to be published Monday.

The allegations were made against staff working at embassies in Africa, South America and the former Soviet republics, according to the report.

Germany's Foreign Ministry has partly confirmed the report, saying it was cooperating with police inquiries headed by Berlin public prosecutors and that it had dismissed an unspecified number of locally hired staff.

According to the report, staff apparently overlooked false statements in visa applications, accepting several hundred euros in cash per visa in addition to official fees. Those accused of taking bribes were foreign employees of the embassies and not German diplomatic staff.

Human traffickers based in Germany are thought to have paid the brides as some of the people for whom the visas were acquired have reportedly ended up in Hamburg brothels.

A ministry spokesman has declined further comment.

This isn't the first time that embassy staff members have been investigated for accepting bribes. In 2004, it was revealed that staff at an embassy in Kiev, Ukraine had taken bribes to grant visas, sparking a scandal that nearly brought down then Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer.

Author: Martin Kuebler (dpa, Reuters)

Editor: Sean Sinico

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