Estonian police has detained 12 people, including four Police and Border Guard employees, in what is believed to be the biggest scam the country has seen for years.
The suspects allegedly issued official documents that need state approval, such as language test certificates, living permits, papers needed to receive Estonian citizenship, and medical certificates.
The scam involved forgery, entering false information and accomplices who used fake identity.
The main suspect is a 65-year-old woman, who was allegedly the ringleader, recruting members for the mafia-style group.
Four Police and Border Guard employees, who are now bribery suspects, are believed to have been involved in the process of issuing the forged documents, but were not organizers of the scam. They released confidential information, knowingly accepted application forms with false information and issued official documents in return for bribes. Two are specialists and two are customer servants.
The prosecutor in the case, Steven-Hristo Evestus, said at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon that ten members of the criminal group were women. The associates were using clever methods to evade justice – using nicknames and meeting in certain places where the public would have not disturbed them.
Evestus disclosed that the investigation started 7 months ago.
This exposure is latest in a series of corruption scandals that have rattled Estonia in last three months. In August, authorities detained Port of Tallinn CEO on corruption allegations. In September, Tallinn mayor Edgar Savisaar was named suspect in four episodes of corruption and suspended from mayor's office, pending investigation.
This story is being updated.
Editor: S. Tambur