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People trafficking Yet more arrests in Ticino residence permit scandal

Eleven individuals are suspected of having traded residence permits for kickbacks at Ticino's migration office


Two more people have been arrested as part of an investigation into an alleged illegal residence permit scam linked to canton Ticino’s migration office. The number of suspects in the scam has now risen to 11.

Two men, aged 32 and 42, of Kosovan origin, were arrested in the canton on Wednesday. The owner and director of a construction company are accused of people trafficking and forging documents.

This follows the arrest on Tuesday of a 28-year-old female employee at Ticino’s migration office and a 24-year-old cantonal official on suspicion of having violated state secrecy laws, the Ticino public prosecutor’s office said.

These two individuals were arrested and questioned by police and later released. They are both believed to have been incited to action by a 44-year-old Swiss-Italian man, also residing in Ticino, who was indicted Tuesday.

Ongoing investigation

Last week six other people were arrested and questioned by local police, who are investigating an alleged scam into the issuing of residence permits for Ticino and other cantons to several foreigners who were not entitled to them.

Those arrested last week in the Italian-speaking canton include a 28-year-old worker and two former employees (aged 23 and 28) at the Ticino migration office (all Swiss) and a 27-year-old Turkish man.

During the arrests on Tuesday, documents were recovered relating to various kinds of residence permits. The individuals are accused of theft, bribery and violating the foreigners and integration law and pocketing several thousand francs for permits that were issued illegally, police in the Italian-speaking canton said on Wednesday.

The details of how this happened are subject to an ongoing investigation.

Migration office 'reorganising'

A 25-year-old accomplice, who previously owned a construction firm in Bellinzona, had been arrested in Kosovo, the police added. He is accused of human trafficking, bribery, falsifying documents and violating the foreigners and integration law.

The investigation was triggered last year following a tip-off from the cantonal security department’s population office.

Norman Gobbi, head of cantonal security, condemned the incident and regretted the employees’ abuse of trust. He pointed out that internal controls had worked efficiently and that in the meantime a “re-organisation” of the migration office had been introduced.

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