Protection against fraud in migration activities at missions abroad Read full summary in English
1 Lack of regular checks
Risk: undiscovered fraud
To discover fraud, it is important to carry out controls on a regular basis and ex post controls of the organisation's activities and operations. Regular ex post checks of an activity are important to assess whether the control procedures are working as intended or to discover unusual patterns, for example in the processing of cases. Even though several actors carry out ex post checks of the activities of missions abroad, the Swedish NAO noted that migration activities were seldom subject to controls.
2 Self-investigation of reported cases
Risk: investigations not conducted in a legally secure manner
When an alleged fraud is reported to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the procedure is that the mission abroad concerned investigates the complaint, while the Ministry coordinates the investigation. In the view of the Swedish NAO it is not appropriate for missions abroad to investigate themselves, since there is a risk that the investigations will not be conducted independently and in a legally secure manner. The missions abroad are often small, with few employees, which makes it more difficult to carry out independent investigations.
The audit also shows that the Swedish Migration Board has often assisted in investigations concerning missions abroad through its supervisory function. However, the division of responsibility between the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the supervisory function of the Swedish Migration Agency in investigations is not formalised, either at an overall level or in the individual investigations the Swedish Migration Board assists with.
Of Sweden's approximately 100 missions abroad (embassies and consulates), 60 conduct migration activities and process applications for visas and residence permits on grounds of ties to Sweden. In recent years several cases of fraud in these activities have been reported in the media. These include among other things taking bribes when processing residence permit cases and granting visas to Sweden on false grounds.
The missions abroad play an important part in processing migration cases. In 2017 they made decisions in 247 000 visa applications and participated in the processing of 36 000 applications for residence permits. Migration cases at missions abroad have increased in recent years. Fraud in migration activities risks damaging confidence in both the missions abroad and central government administration as a whole.
The audit was based on the following questions - Is the protection against fraud in migration activities at missions abroad appropriate with regard to:
1. Dealing with risks of fraud?
2. Preventing fraud?
3. Discovering fraud?
4. Dealing with reported cases of fraud?
The audit mainly covers the missions abroad, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Swedish Migration Board, and to some extent the Government Offices' internal audit. The grounds for assessment of each question are based on the National Financial Management Authority's guidance concerning work to prevent fraud and the Swedish NAO's experiences of previous audits in this area.