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Czech Ambassador to Iran recalled over Schengen visa trade

Prague, Czech Republic – The Czech Ambassador in Tehran Svatopluk Čumba was allegedly recalled this week for taking part in an illegal Schengen visa trade scheme.

According local daily Dennik N, the Czech envoy to Iran was recalled to Prague over allegations he sold up to 400 priority Schengen visas to Iranian businessmen.

According to the investigation by the Czech Foreign Ministry’s general inspectorate into alleged fraudulent practices in the embassy, the scheme also involved the Czech-Slovak-Iranian Chamber of Commerce. Its director and former Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan as well as Zdeněk Zbytek would recommend individuals and businessmen to ambassador Svatopluk Čumba who would then grant them priority Schengen visas, thus circumventing the usual procedure.

The diplomat admitted that he “helped mediate visas for Iranian entrepreneurs”, but denied he received any money or financial compensation for this, denying. Dismissing allegations he was recalled from his posting following the conclusions of the internal Foreign Ministry audit, he claimed he simply came back to Prague as his three-year posting was coming to an end.

Jan Kavan also criticized the report from the Czech Foreign Ministry, saying it contained “a number of inaccuracies” and claimed the ambassador didn’t violate any rules. The only thing that he can be blamed for, according to the head of the Czech-Slovak-Iranian Chamber of Commerce, is the “overuse or too frequent use of the powers that the ambassador has”.

Some reports claim M. Kavan is even planning to sue the Czech Foreign Affairs Ministry for defamation.

Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek said the affair was an “individual failing” from Svatopluk Čumba, a career diplomat who had served as Prague’s top envoy in Tehran since October 2017. Before that, he had been ambassador of the Czech Republic to Lebanon, and had served in postings in Spain, Nigeria, China, Venezuela and in the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Prague.