The Czech journal Denik N reported on August 7 that the Czech Republic has recalled its ambassador, Svatopluk Cumba, from Tehran after an investigation of fraudulent practices in granting Schengen visas to Iranians.
According to the report, Ambassador Cumba was allegedly involved in a scheme with the Czech-Slovak-Iranian Chamber of Commerce headed by former Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan. The ambassador allegedly granted priority visas and circumvented the standard procedures for granting Schengen visas.
According to a tweet by a Czech journalist, 400 visas are suspected of having been granted on a fraudulent basis.
A Schengen area visa would grant an Iranian passport holder access to 26 countries in Europe, most of them part of the European Union.
Cumba told Denik N that he returned from Iran after a three-year posting as ambassador and refused to comment on the allegations.
An Iranian national, Amir Tavakoli, confirmed to Denik N that he did help arrange visas through the Czech-Slovak-Iranian Chamber of Commerce, saying, “It is true that I helped arrange visas for Iranian businessmen.”
However, former Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan who heads the chamber of commerce told Czech Radio on August 7, “There was an inspection several months ago. It ended and an audit was written up.” He insisted that there were disagreements between the ambassador and the embassy, which might have led to these allegations.
Kavan suggested that the ambassador wasn’t recalled but was regularly rotated from his post.
Kavan also pointed out that the Czech-Slovak-Iranian Chamber of Commerce has hired a lawyer and is planning a defamation suit against the Czech Foreign Ministry.