RIO DE JANEIRO • Immigration agents at Rio de Janeiro's airport are under investigation for allegedly accepting bribes to allow Chinese immigrants into the country illegally, Brazilian newspaper O Globo reported.
The Public Prosecutor's Office initiated the probe after a man who had worked with the Chinese for the past 15 years tipped off the Ministry of Labour last month.
"Chinese fast-food restaurant owners in Rio - who recruit Chinese workers and maintain forced-labour-like conditions - would spend up to 42,000 reais (S$17,000) for an illegal immigrant's entry," the tipster's report said, according to O Globo.
The witness recounted one incident in which a fast-food restaurant owner arrived at the airport 20 minutes after the time arranged with immigration officials. As no payment had been made, the officials had already sent the would-be immigrants back to China by then, the witness said.
Last week, four Chinese workers kept in semi-slavery conditions were freed from a fast-food restaurant in Rio's northern suburbs by the Ministry of Labour, O Globo reported last Saturday.
According to the witness, the Chinese immigrants' passports are stamped by immigration workers, then "lost" to erase the evidence. They then receive new passports.
A source from the Public Prosecutor's Office told O Globo that "the visas were probably falsified in China and when the immigrants arrived in Rio, the immigration department would pretend to not notice that they were fake and would validate them, after payment of a bribe".