Ghana Consulate of NY Fires Employee, Alleging Extortion

by Kofi Ayim

The Permanent Mission of Ghana in New York City has fired a security officer at the Consulate, charging him with extortion after a complaint filed by a visa applicant earlier this year. However the employee states that the charges are false and claims his firing is without cause. Charges of malfeasance at the Ghana Mission in N.Y. have been raised in the past, with allegations of systematic visa fraud in March of 2017.

A security officer at the Permanent Mission of Ghana in New York City, Mr. Gabriel Smart-Abbey has been dismissed. Smart-Abbey was accused by consular officials of extorting money from a visa applicant in mid-March of this year.

The applicant, who opted for a multiple and expedited entry visa (Priority with a turnaround time of 24 hours), visited the Ghana Consulate and engaged in visa enquiry with Smart- Abbey.

It’s alleged that the applicant was charged a $30 “application fee” and a $50 “favor” fee by Smart-Abbey, who is said to have then assisted the woman in completing the application. The applicant was also required to pay a visa fee of $260.

In a termination correspondence to Smart-Abbey dated March 26, 2018, the Mission described his behavior as “unprofessional and unacceptable” and pointed out that consular duties are not functions of security staff.

According to sources, the Ghana Consulate and Mission initiated an investigation into the complaint lodged by the visa applicant against Mr. Smart-Abbey.

He was given the opportunity to respond to the accusations, upon which he provided a written response. In it, he denied the complaints leveled against him, but the investigators believed otherwise. He was interdicted during the course of the investigation and later dismissed.

However, in an interview with Amandla, Smart-Abbey rejected the charges and defended his actions. He states he went the extra mile to help a desperate visa applicant who showed up on a Tuesday after normal working hours with a technically expired passport and without the required visa application form.

Scheduled to fly to Ghana the following Sunday, Smarty-Abbey states the applicant was left with only three working days to put her traveling documents in order. Smart-Abbey said he explained to the woman that for a $30 fee, she could get help around the corner to complete the visa application, after which he would submit it and mail her passport with the entry visa to her.

He added that the woman came back the following day with a renewed passport and gave him a total of $80 to facilitate filing the application form and effect mailing after the visa was acquired.

She also gave him the $260 visa fee. The 24-hour guarantee mail was less than $25, but the woman asked him to keep the remainder of the balance.

According to Smart-Abbey, for some unknown reasons the woman came back the following Friday while he was on an errand for the consulate.

He therefore called the office and arranged for her passport to be given to her. Some days later, he received a letter accusing him of extortion, and an eventual letter of dismissal. A perplexed Gabriel Smart-Abbey said he was never interviewed or called to appear before any committee of enquiry or hearing to explain or defend himself.

“I think it was a setup,” he told this writer. “You know what, there have been speculations that I have been leaking information to the public, including to you, Amandla,” he added.

He also dismissed as false the notion that he was not supposed to perform consular work. “Besides security duties, I perform some consular duties and serve as a vehicle driver when needed .”

According to Consular sources, a visa application may be downloaded from the Consulate’s website for free, filled out, and then sent to the New York City office either in person or by mail.

For an expedited and multiple entry visa via delivery services, an additional $30 is levied for a guaranteed mail-back passport with embossed visa if that option is selected. Express applications (with a turnaround time of 72 hours) carry a fee of $240 through postal submission and $210 when submitted in person.

The standard fee for Single Entry Visa through delivery services is $100, while Express and Expedited (Priority) draw fees of $140 and $190, respectively. Personal submission is $30 cheaper in each category of entry visa application.

It should be recalled that in March of last year, Amandla ran a front-page article about a syndicated visa fraud at the Ghana Mission and Consulate in New York City. The Mission contends that it has since adopted zero tolerance with respect to graft and/or malfeasance, in addition to improved services.

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Posted by on Jun 14 2018. Filed under top stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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