Libyan diplomat in Dhaka flees amid $13m visa scam

A middle-ranking Libyan diplomat in Bangladesh is believed to have absconded with up to $13 million of visa payments made by Bangladeshis seeking jobs in Libya.

Kamel Al-Mahjoub, who was chargé d’affaires at the embassy in Dhaka, is also thought to have operated a scam selling invalid visas. Up to 400 Bangladeshis have been turned away by Libyan immigration authorities in recent months, because of these fake documents.

Mahjoub had been working unsupervised for over a year and Bangladesh authorities are blaming the scam on the lack of a Libyan ambassador.

A journalist for ATN Bangla, Keramot Ullah Biplob, told Libya Herald that Mahjoub had been charging $500 per visa application but that when the visas were issued, many carried the same visa number, rendering them invalid. Ten thousand visas had actually been issued and a further six thousand stamped passports are currently waiting, undelivered, at the Libyan embassy. It is not clear if these travel documents also all carry the same number.

The allegations have been supported by Dr. Zafar Ahmed Khan, secretary of Bangladesh’s Welfare and Overseas Employment Ministry, who added that he hoped the entire scam would be exposed when the new Libyan ambassador arrived in Dhaka. There have been reports that local recruiting agencies may have been involved in the alleged racket.

Around 30,000 Bangladeshis were working in Libya, but the majority fled the fighting early between February and April 2011.

(Source: Saudi Gazette, Libya Herald)

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