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Bahamas: Fbi Sting Blows Open Visa Scam

A two-year FBI sting operation into visa fraud in the Bahamas has uncovered an alleged bribery ring between senior Bahamas immigration officials and a purported justice of the peace for fraudulent long-term work permits.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigations paid three Haitian nationals just under $50,000 to participate in the undercover operation, which has led to the arrest and indictment of four Haitians living in the Bahamas and one Bahamian, along with the alleged lead conspirator Edward Israel Saintil, who holds both Bahamian and Haitian passports.

Saintil is accused of encouraging and inducing illegal entry into the US, and was arrested in late September after he travelled to the District of Columbia to purportedly collect a $14,000 fee to smuggle a Haitian national into the country and arrange a marriage to a US citizen.

The FBI’s investigation kicked off in October 2016, and the bribery claims are detailed in an affidavit sworn by US federal agent Kevin Gounaud, who previously served in the US Coast Guard for 14 years.

In recorded meetings, Saintil boasted of close relationships with both current and former top immigration officials – saying he preferred one over the other because the official was more of a “businessman” – along with capacity to obtain fraudulent bank statements to support visa applications.

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