The State Department said last week that it was investigating “allegations of improprieties relating to a Consular Officer formerly assigned to Georgetown, Guyana,” but the Daily Caller reported Monday that those “improprieties” may have included selling visas for sex and money, while denying them to eligible applicants.
The Daily Caller bases its report on accounts in local media outlets, as well as its discussions with two journalists from Guyana, a South American country to the east of Venezuela.
They identify the officer as Edy Zohar Rodrigues Duran, a former high school teacher in Texas currently living in Falls Church, Va.
They found reports from the Guyana Observer News highlighting claims that Duran has sold visas to “corrupt businessmen [and] drug dealers” for between $15,000 and $40,000, the Observer adding: “The Feds have not stumbled on concrete evidence on the issue of money for visas, but sufficient evidence on the sex for visas.”
Demerara Waves Online News said it was told that sometimes sex was demanded in addition to the $40,000 bribe.
The Daily Caller continues::
Julia Johnson…a publisher with Prime News TV, says that Guyana is home to people-smuggling operations because of its porous border with neighboring Suriname.
“We became aware of a scam going on at the embassy when many legitimate visa applicants were being turned down,” Johnson told TheDC. Rather than approving journalists and other Guyanese professionals for a U.S. visa, Johnson says that Duran instead approved “questionable characters” for visas to the United States at the last possible moment before the Guyanese quota would have been used up.
When Johnson showed photos of Duran to the visa applicants they all identified him as the officer who had turned them down. Johnson said she has also heard from her sources that Duran was having sex with several young Indo-Guyanese women. [Emphasis added]
It is unconfirmed whether Duran has been fired or placed on administrative leave for the course of the investigation, but he left Guyana in June, several months ahead of his scheduled departure in September.
Radio host and publisher of the Guyana Observer Mark A. Benschop told the DC that the U.S. embassy “wanted a hush-hush on this whole affair,” but the unexpected changes and complaints caused “eyebrows to be raised.”
Earlier in June, CBS News claimed that high-ranking State Department officials covered up staffers’ illegal and inappropriate behavior, including claims of sexual abuse, prostitution and participation in an underground drug ring.
The problem was described as “endemic.”