Saturday, March 10, 2007

Pole accused of people smuggling

A senior visa officer at the Canadian Embassy in Warsaw has been charged with 100 counts of fraud for allegedly using her position to smuggle hundreds of people -- including some criminals -- into the country without security checks.

Warsaw security police seized $175,000, jewelry and about $7,500 Cdn from a bag being carried by a suspect, who's identified in the Polish press as Michalina Hoffman, 61, a Polish citizen employed at the embassy for 30 years.

Since her arrest last week, hundreds of immigration files in the visa section have been frozen as investigators search for fraud.

The arrest stemmed from a Toronto Sun article in February last year after Toronto-area Poles complained about having to pay bribes at the embassy to obtain Canadian documents.

Warsaw police said the woman was arrested with six men, whose alleged roles were to collect payments from Poles with criminal records who wanted to travel to Canada or others in the Toronto-area who wanted to bring relatives here.