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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Naga Resort staff all stung with counterfiet visas

Naga Resort staff all stung with counterfiet visas

A Foreign Affairs official put it nicely: "Its visa anarchy out there," he said

- and tempers are getting hot.

Foreigners leaving or entering the Kingdom

have been stung by an inter-departmental mess involving

- depending on who you believe - "rogues" within the Ministry of Foreign

Affairs (MFA) who have no business affixing their signatures to visas; or

"middlemen cheating on visa arrangements".

Airport police have been told

not to accept visas issued to tourists and business people by the

MFA.

Unless visas for those people have come from the Interior Ministry,

travelers are liable to pay based on some arbitrary fines system - possibly

depending on the mood of any particular airport policeman at the

time.

The Post has anecdotal evidence of some being charged $3 a day;

other fines seem to range from $25 to $300.

A plane was even delayed

while a Malaysian national fruitlessly argued the toss. The Malaysian Embassy

complained about the incident, though later officially denied doing so to the

Post.

"They're not getting more bloody money from me," said one irate

Irishman. "I'll stand at the counter and if the plane leaves with my luggage

unaccompanied, they'll be breaking international aviation laws... lets see how

they'll deal with that."

The Interior Ministry recently received 120

complaints from employees at the Naga Resort casino, whose visas were not

recognized by the airport police, Lour Ramin, chief of the Immigration

Department told the Post.

When they complained to the MFA they were told

they had been duped by "rogues" in the office who were not entitled to issue

visas.

"Those visas were made by fraudulent means and we cannot recognize

them. The police are investigating the case now," Ramine said.

MFA only

issues visas to NGOs, diplomats and those at international organizations. The

Interior Ministry issues to all others.

Foreign Affair's consular

department director Long Phol said he had received many complaints from people

whose visas were not recognized by airport police.

He said the victims

bought visas from "offenders who surreptitiously produced fake seals and signed

my signature," he said.

"We know that there were people making the same

seals as we have and they forged our signatures," he said. There were only two

people, including himself, authorized to sign visas.

Ramin said the

Ministry of Interior had issued an inter-departmental warning against those who

secretly issued fake visas. However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs - which has

temporarily suspended its visa service till the mess is sorted out - say the

Interior Ministry knows who the

"rogues" were, but had not done anything about them. "It is very complicated.

We have complained to the Ministry of Interior many times asking them to crack

down on this visa anarchy." said Phol.

He said police had been

continuously and mistakenly fining those with MFA-issued visas.

The

police only had the right to examine if the visa is true or fake. They did not

have the right to examine the duration of the visa, nor could they ask to prove

a foreigner was an NGO worker or diplomat, he said.

Lour Ramin denied the

allegation, saying: "It is not police's fault. It was both the rogue who

produced the fake visa and the visa applicant. The applicant should come direct

to have their visa issued. They shouldn't depend on middlemen," he

said.

"We asked the foreigners to show us the ones who ran their visas

but they couldn't because those people had escaped. How can we solve the problem

if the they can not find the visa runners?" he said.

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