Came across this 2001 story:
A VISA-selling racket run by French embassy staff in Sofia has let tens of thousands of Bulgarians into western Europe.
Dominique Chassard, the ambassador, has been recalled and four embassy staff charged with people trafficking and pimping.
French judges uncovered the scandal when police in Strasbourg caught prostitutes with business visas issued in Sofia. The women admitted paying between £100 and £300 for the visas.
They had been given bogus internships with French firms. Officials found that the number of visas issued from Bulgaria had risen from fewer than 30,000 in 1999 to 65,000 this year.
Many of the applications were supported by false documents. It emerged that the agent in charge, Rudy Demange, could not speak Bulgarian or read Cyrillic script.
“How could I possibly control anything?” he was quoted as saying by the newspaper Liberation. “I had up to 630 visas to sign in a day.”
M Demange – now given a desk job in France – said he told M Chassard of the problem, which he blamed on local staff.
“They earned between £120 and £150 a month,” he said, “and yet the employee who manned the reception desk had bought himself two new computers and the doorman was driving a new car.”
Bulgarian magistrates are launching their own investigation. Lutchezar Petkov, the head of the judiciary’s serious fraud office, said of the French ambassador: “He didn’t control things enough.
All he wanted to do was ensure that there weren’t queues of people wanting visas lining up outside the embassy.”
M Chassard has issued a statement denying any involvement in the scandal. In Paris, the Foreign Ministry promised harsh sanctions on those found guilty of running the racket.
Similar allegations have also been made against the Belgian embassy in Sofia. Visas are said to have been sold to gangsters.
Chassard was sixty at the time. Nice way to fade away, preserving “son excellence”. Still a Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur. Still an Officier de l’ordre national du mérite.
Where Bulgaria is recognized as a major source of fraudulent identity documents….