Migration Board worker took bribes for passports

A court in Malmö has jailed a former Migration Board worker and his accomplice for taking bribes in exchange for residence permits and passports for asylum seekers desperate to stay in Sweden.

Migration Board worker took bribes for passports
The Swedish Migration Board's offices in Malmö. Photo: Drago Prvulovic/TT

In a bribery case that first came to light in the summer of 2012, three men were charged with selling Swedish residence permits, forged Bulgarian passports and other identity documents to refugees seeking shelter in Sweden. 

The court gave one of the suspects a three-year prison sentence for taking bribes and helping to forge documents. 

The 53-year-old ex-case officer earned 450,000 kronor ($54,000) from taking bribes in seven separate cases, the court said. 

A 56-year-old accomplice was jailed for a year and a half for forging passports and other forms of identification. 

A second Migration Board case officer, a 47-year-old man, was cleared of the charges against him. 

Investigators found that the asylum seekers, who hailed from Africa and the Middle East, were given forged Bulgarian passports which allowed them to remain in the European Union.

Some also paid the migration agency workers to obtain Swedish residency permits.

The false passports gave the asylum seekers the right to remain in Sweden based on the residency rights afforded all EU citizens.

Suspicions about the scheme emerged after an internal Migration Board investigation, prompting the agency to notify police.


Sweden struggles to find homes for refugees

New arrivals to Sweden increasingly have to stay in Migration Board (Migrationsverket) residential facilities as the country's municipalities say they cannot offer enough housing, despite financial compensation from the state.

Sweden struggles to find homes for refugees

The agency said on Tuesday that it would likely place 8,200 refugees in housing across Sweden this year, but another 2,200 people will not get access to homes.

At present 6,170 people are living in the agency’s own facilities, placing a strain on the Migration Board’s resources. The number is six times higher than what spokeswoman Carolina Henjered deems to be a manageable number of residents.

Henjered said that not being transferred to regular housing risked impeding migrants’ integration.

“They can’t get into Swedish lessons and don’t live near local labour markets,” Henjered told the TT news agency.

The job of finding housing for newly arrived refugees who have been granted asylum in Sweden rests on the shoulders of the county administrative boards, that in turn negotiate with municipalities about housing. The specific placements, however, are managed by the National Employment Agency.

“It’s a lot of actors, and at times one wonders if there are too many,” Henjered said.

The housing crunch in conjunction with the low construction rate of rental properties further complicates the situation.

“There’s a housing shortage, and too few rental properties are being built across the country – those are the reasons the municipalities often refer to,” said Södermanland county administrative board integration coordinator Anna Ekermo Tagesson.

“It’s difficult to argue against it when the housing shortage looks like it does,” she added. “The municipalities that don’t let themselves be persuaded often cite finances.”

While the state steps in to compensate the municipalities for housing refugees, many say that compensation is too low, she added.

TT/The Local/at

Follow The Local on Twitter