Visa scam: Indians in Australia under scanner

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Melbourne, Dec 3: The Australian dream of 227 Indians may be in a limbo as various federal and state agencies are investigating the source of 100,000 dollars bond deposited by them to get the crucial five points for a permanent visa.

These Indian visa applicants have come under scanner as they invested in these bonds from loans allegedly secured improperly by a National Australia Bank (NAB) loan manager, Akshay Batra, in the last 18 months.

Besides NAB, Victoria Police, Department of Immigration and Citizenship and Australian Federal Police have joined the investigations to unravel the latest scam.

There was a provision in Australian migration law till September 1 this year allowing applicants to invest 100,000 dollars for at least 12 months in an approved government security for at least 12 months to get five bonus points for 'Capital Investment'.

Batra, who was also reportedly a registered migration and education agent, is alleged to have provided 227 loans to the Indian clients based on no or very few documents.

The NAB manager is alleged to have colluded with a western Melbourne finance broker, Rajesh Narad, to conduct what has been described by a Federal Court judge as a 'major immigration scam'.

Batra, who is believed to be living in India these days, allegedly approved the loan facilities to the 227 applicants desperate to get five bonus points to qualify for Australian Skilled Migration Program.

After approving the loan facilities, the bank manager would then draw sums in multiples of 100,000 dollars and provide cheques to buy bonds from state-based treasury corporations in NSW, South Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory.

The scam reportedly came to the notice of NAB officials when Batra left Australia in late August. A number of loan accounts managed by him reportedly fell into arrears soon after. Correspondence sent to such account holders was also returned to the bank undelivered raising suspicion to alarming status.

According to Australian media reports, within 15 months, 227 of the Indian duo' s immigration clients invested 22.7 million dollars of bank funds in treasury bonds.

NAB's fraud investigators reportedly obtained court orders to freeze treasury bonds deposited by the above-mentioned Indian applicants.

The NAB lawyers are also reported to have searched Narad's home and offices last month as a part of the investigation and seized documents relating to loan accounts and treasury bonds.

The NAB has not laid any charges on Batra at this stage and is accusing him only of breaching his duty as an employee. Similarly, no charges have been laid against Narad by any organisation for his alleged role in the immigration scam.


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