The Polish government is facing mounting pressure in the wake of an escalating scandal involving cash for visas. Tomasz Grodzki, the Speaker of Poland’s upper house of parliament, has called on the government to disclose what it knew about this growing scandal, which is causing significant damage to the country’s international reputation as a responsible democracy.
Although the Polish Government has been secretive regarding the details, according to media reports, migrants allegedly paid significant amounts, potentially as high as $5,000 (£4,000) each, to fast-track their work visa applications. It’s worth noting that none of the individuals who have faced charges in this case are government officials. However, Deputy Foreign Minister Piotr Wawrzyk was dismissed last week following these accusations.This coincided with a search of the foreign ministry conducted by Poland’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (CBA), leading to the removal of the director of its legal service.
The Foreign Ministry
The foreign ministry, currently under audit regarding the scandal, has pledged to terminate all contracts with outsourcing companies responsible for visa applications since 2011. Opposition Members of Parliament contend that these outsourcing firms granted as many as 250,000 visas to individuals from Asia and Africa in an irregular manner. On the other hand, the government disputes this statistic and asserts that only a few hundred visas potentially had issues.
Donald Tusk, the leader of the opposition Civic Platform party, accused the government of allowing a lax migration policy. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, however, dismissed these claims, accusing Tusk of attempting to create problems for his governing Law and Justice party (PiS) and denying the existence of a widespread issue.
In a televised address on Friday, Mr. Grodzki emphasized the seriousness of the situation: “This is the biggest scandal we have faced in the 21st century. Corruption at the highest levels of government, bringing a direct threat to all of us. “This case is damaging our country’s reputation as a responsible member of the democratic community of the free world and putting our security at risk, so we must explain it in detail.”
Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro later downplayed the scale of the problem in an interview with state-run news channel TVP Info. The CBA has been aware of the matter since July 2022 and has been working to verify it.
This scandal poses a significant challenge to the PiS’s anti-immigration stance just a month before parliamentary elections. While the party currently leads in polls, it remains uncertain whether they can secure the outright majority required for governance as they seek an unprecedented third term in office.