Sold out … for jobs that aren’t
KUWAIT CITY, April 20: More than a year has passed since the visa-trading scandal was exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, its repercussions still create more problems and reveal thousands of victims who lost their savings and became victims of the traffickers trading on the sweat of the poor, reports Al-Qabas daily. According to official sources within the Egyptian government, conflicts recently erupted between tribes in Upper Egypt and a visa agent working for some companies in Kuwait because he sold thousands of visas to the residents of Sohag Governorate who came to Kuwait only to discover that these companies were fake.
This broker collected about 100 million pounds from thousands of people looking for work opportunities in Kuwait. The victims left Kuwait when residencies were arranged for them, and they demanded the return of the money they paid to him. However, he has since disappeared. The families of the victims are now up in arms against the visa agent who used to bring workers from the governorates of Upper Egypt to Kuwait but the victims discovered that they bought fake residencies from companies that do not carry out any real activity.
During the period from 2018 to 2020, the visa trader sold 2,000 fake visas in Sohag Governorate at about KD 2,000 per visa. This adds up to about KD 4 million, which is more than 100 million Egyptian pounds, for fake visas related to small projects, farms and others. The visa trader, whose headquarters is in the Al-Balina Center in Sohag, is wealthy and possesses houses, real estate and other properties which he acquired through the fictitious visa trading in Kuwait.
He also has “wasta” (influence) and relations with agents in Kuwait who facilitate all procedures for him. He also has influence in Egypt through which his activities are facilitated. During the past weeks, hundreds of victims of the visa-trade gathered and launched a campaign on social media to expose his activities. A number of them filed cases against him, and others lodged complaints at the Embassy of Kuwait in Cairo. The families of the victims are very upset because of their bad image promoted in Kuwait, and feel distressed. One of them lost everything, as he was deported, after he became one among the illegal and marginal workers who had decided to travel to Kuwait in order to work in a profession legally and in an honorable manner.
Hussein Numan, one of the victims from Sohag, said he filed a report at Al-Ballina Police Station in Sohag against the aforementioned human trafficker, after he and dozens of other people became victims of fake visas. He explained that he traveled to Kuwait with 80 people in 2018, and was given a fake residency related to small projects. After each person paid an amount of about KD 2,000, they discovered that they were deceived as they were accused of having come to Kuwait with a free visa. When they went back to him, he ignored them.
Then their sponsor filed absconding reports against them, which led to their return to Egypt either voluntarily or through deportation. Numan admitted that he had helped the accused by advertising about provision of visas to Kuwait, but he was quick to add that he did not know that it was a fake visa. He stressed that he was only trying to help the people of his region to travel to Kuwait for work, but later discovered that the accused deceived him and used it to recruit more victims.
Kamel Ahmed, one of the victims who launched a campaign on social media to hold the visa broker accountable, said, “This quorum has a network of agents in Kuwait and deals with Kuwaiti small business owners. Each company has dozens of workers in its file. The visa broker recruits manpower from Egypt, especially from the governorates of Upper Egypt, in return for very large sums of money. The culprit used to sell entry visas to Kuwait with fake work contracts for tens of people every month, by virtue of his relationships, influence, and possession of power of attorney and other relevant relationships that helped him work in trading fake residency”.
In addition, Ali Anwar, another victim, revealed a clear intention from the security authorities in Sohag to take care of this issue and provide justice to the victims. He said he had informed the Kuwait embassy and was preparing to submit a request to the public funds investigation to look into the inflation of the suspect’s bank balances, and to prove the existence of bank transactions related to the visa trade.