China Center in Kouvola Raided by Border Guard
published Nov 11 02:30 PM, updated Thu 05:12 PM
Police and the Finnish Border Guard have raided several houses in Kouvola which they believe were used by criminals organizing illegal immigration into Finland. One target was the China Center, a large showcase for Chinese import and other businesses.
Police took seven suspects into custody who are suspected of arranging for tens of residence permits under false pretences for would-be Chinese immigrants.
“What's happened is that they got a school or business or private individual to sponsor a visa for someone. Then this visa was misused to obtain a residence permit on the false grounds,” explains the head of the investigation, Captain Sami Paila of the Border Guard.
Paila says the residence permits were supposedly obtained by a business needing workers from China. But some of the applicants knew nothing about the company they were ostensibly coming to work for.
Seven suspects, both Finns and Chinese, have been taken into custody. Authorities also found illegal immigrants in the China Centre.
Victim or Accomplice
Around 150 officials participated in the raids. They targeted the China Center (Kiina Center) in Kouvola and the Leishi centre in Valkeala, among other sites.
Police are now trying to work out whether the China Center and the Leishi centre were taken advantage of by the scams or whether they played a part in them. The Nordic China Center was set up a few years ago as a commercial bridge between east and west, a shopping mall of Chinese clothing, toys and interior design.
According to police, the China Centre has been devoid of customers, as has the old mental hospital that they were planning to convert into a Chinese-style spa. Paila says they are now trying to get to the bottom of how much, if any, of the business was bogus.
Some of the illegal immigrants may have already moved on to other Schengen countries, say officials.