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More than 40 held in Italy for migrant visa fraud after Meloni complaints



ROME: More than 40 people have been detained in Italy on charges of migrant visa fraud, police and prosecutors said Wednesday, after Prime Minister Giordano Meloni complained weeks ago that mafia groups were abusing the system for profit.
Forty-four people were arrested, of whom 13 were imprisoned, 24 were placed under house arrest, and seven were detained. They were charged with various crimes, such as forming a criminal organization for the purpose of promoting illegal immigration, Money laundering and false invoices.
The other 10 suspects were banned from business activities for 12 months.
The suspects had filed a case of fraud, according to a statement from prosecutors in the southern city of Salerno, near Naples. Visa Application On behalf of migrants who need sponsorship from employers to begin the process.
They filed nearly 2,500 applications since 2020 “based on non-existent or falsified data,” prosecutors said, adding that migrants paid up to 7,000 euros ($7,575.40) each to push the process through various bureaucratic hurdles.
Prosecutors said assets worth about 6 million euros in profits from alleged crimes were seized, indicating that some of the suspects accused of money laundering had links to the Camorra mafia in and around Naples.
Speaking to reporters, Salerno chief prosecutor Giuseppe Borelli said the investigation was accelerated after Meloni said in June he had reported his concerns about possible visa fraud to the national anti-mafia prosecutor.
As part of its tough stance on immigration, Meloni's right-wing government has passed a number of measures to curb the arrival of migrants but also expanded legal provisions. Immigration Channel In response to the growing labor shortage.
Last year, it increased the quota of work visas for non-EU citizens to a total of 452,000 for the period 2023-2025, an increase of almost 150% from the previous three years. In 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, Italy issued only 30,850 visas.
According to the Interior Ministry, the system has received a massive influx of applications, with 151,000 spots available for 2024 alone, and nearly 244,000 requests received in the first 10 days of the process.
Last month Meloni said a disproportionate number of applications had come from Campania (the economically deprived region home to Naples and its Camorra mafia), raising alarm bells.
Migrant rights advocates say excessive red tape leads to visa abuse, and have called for reform of a system that they say generally benefits undocumented migrants already in Italy, who use quotas to legalise their status.
($1 = 0.9240 euros)



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