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UN Russian Employee Arrested for Immigration Fraud

U.S. authorities arrested an United Nations' Russian employee on Monday on charges of immigration fraud. From VOA's New York bureau, Suzanne Presto reports the man is accused of using his position at the U.N. to help foreigners enter the United States illegally.

U.N. Spokesman Farhan Haq confirmed the arrest of Vyacheslav Manokhin, a Russian translator at U.N. headquarters in Manhattan. Haq noted that the world body has been cooperating with the investigation into immigration fraud.

"We did receive word that Vyacheslav Manokhin, who is a U.N. employee, was charged with immigration fraud by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York," said Haq. "On the 27th of July, we informed the U.S. attorney that the Secretary General had waived Mr. Manokhin's immunity, in accordance with the relevant legal treaties."

Manokhin is a Russian citizen. He and two other men who are not employed by the U.N. are in U.S. custody in connection to the immigration scam.

One of those defendants was born in Russia and granted political asylum in the United States. The other is a citizen of Uzbekistan.

Authorities say the three defendants prepared or obtained phony documents requesting U.S. entry visas. The letters were presented to consular officials and others in Uzbekistan in support of visa applications."

Some of the documents were on U.N. letterhead, purportedly signed by officials authorized to make visa requests. The letters said individuals needed the visas in order to attend conferences in the United States. In some cases, the conferences did not exist. In other cases, the individuals did not attend.

U.S. authorities say nine out of 14 people bearing the fraudulent letters were granted entry to the U.S. since the scam began in 2005.

The legal complaint accuses Manokhin of using his office at the U.N. to make it appear that the world body supported the visa applications. According to the complaint, the signatures on the documents did not even belong to real U.N. employees.

But U.N. spokesman Haq said this is not a case of a legitimate U.N. official abusing his authority in order to help people gain visas.

"The U.S. mission is aware of who is entitled and who is not to deal with matters of immigration. In this case, the allegations concern fraudulent forms," said Haq.

Haq said Manokhin has been suspended from the U.N. job.