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An asylum-seeker being interviewed by an official of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (right) in the presence of an interpreter (left). An internal review discovered that the agency’s branch in the city of Bremen had violated legal and internal regulations for the approval of asylum applications / Photo: BAMF

Germany’s refugee agency chief sacked amid asylum fraud scandal

After serving just 18 months as head of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), Jutta Cordt was fired on Friday by Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, after an internal review discovered that the agency’s branch in the city of Bremen had violated legal and internal regulations for the approval of asylum applications.

In April, it was revealed that a former BAMF official at the Bremen office was under investigation on suspicion of taking bribes from at least 1,200 asylum seekers, starting in 2013, for granting their applications. Other officials at the agency were also probed for possibly having taken part in the scheme. They include an interpreter and three lawyers.

Jutta Cordt, President of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees until Friday (left), and Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (right) during the latter’s visit to the agency’s headquarters in Nuremberg, April 2018 / Source: © BAMF

 

After reviewing some 1,371 asylum cases from 2013 to 2017, an internal audit allegedly found the Bremen branch responsible for violating the law in 142 instances. In 54 percent of the Bremen decisions there had been no admissible request. In about 40 percent of cases, the identity of the asylum seekers was not clarified, the report said.

READ ALSO German migration official investigated for granting asylum in exchange for bribes

More than a million migrants –from predominantly Muslim countries– have entered Germany since the refugee crisis erupted in 2015, fuelling strong anti-migrant sentiments and protests against Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door policy. A number of terrorist attacks involving refugees followed, as well the infamous sexual harassment incidents during the 2015 New Year’s Eve celebrations in Cologne and other cities.

Some 62 percent of Germans polled by Infratest dimap are in favour of turning back undocumented migrants at the border. The poll, released on Friday, also showed that some 86 percent want faster deportations of rejected asylum applicants.

Sola Jolaoso with agency reports

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