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US embassy in Guyana probes alleged visa racket

US embassy in Guyana probes alleged visa racket

The US embassy in Guyana said Wednesday it was investigating allegations that a consular officer who worked at the post was selling visas for thousands of dollars.

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

“The Department takes all allegations of misconduct by employees seriously. We are reviewing the matter thoroughly,” it said in response to enquiries by AFP.

“If the allegations are substantiated, we will work with the relevant authorities to hold anyone involved accountable.”

The US embassy in the South American nation gave no further details about the probe or the identity of the consular officer.

Government sources in Guyana told AFP that the officer had been removed from his post, two months before his tour of duty was due to end in September 2013.

Those sources alleged the officer had negotiated to sell visas for as much as $40,000, using a popular restaurant and bar in Georgetown, the capital of this former British colony, to seal the deals.

The officer had also travelled to neighboring Suriname, which Chinese migrants often use as a staging ground to enter Venezuela and, eventually, the United States.

In 2000, then US consular officer Thomas Carroll was charged with selling as many as 800 visas for $10,000-15,000 each.

He eventually pleaded guilty in federal court and was sentenced to 21 years in prison but that sentence was later reduced on appeal.

A Guyanese national, Halim Khan, was sentenced to more than three years in jail in connection with the visa racket run by Carroll.

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