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Top Indian diplomat in US held for visa fraud, released on bail

Google Oneindia News
New York, Dec 13: India's Deputy Consul General in New York Devyani Khobragade who was arrested for allegedly presenting fraudulent documents in support of a visa application for an Indian national employed by her, has been released today from custody on a USD 25,000 bond.

She pleaded not guilty in federal court here to charges of visa fraud. Khobragade was arrested yesterday morning by law enforcement authorities after Manhattan's top federal prosecutor Preet Bharara announced the charges against her.

Khobragade appeared before a federal judge here for her arraignment. The Indian embassy in Washington released a statement saying that it has immediately conveyed its strong concern to the US government over the action taken against Khobragade.

Khobragade, 39, was held on charges that she allegedly caused a materially false and fraudulent document to be presented, and materially false and fraudulent statements to be made, to the US Department of State in support of a visa application for an Indian national employed as a babysitter and housekeeper at her home in New York.

Khobragade is currently employed as the Deputy Consul General for Political, Economic, Commercial and Women's Affairs at the Consulate General of India in New York. Khobragade was charged with one count of visa fraud and one count of making false statements, which carry maximum sentences of ten years and five years in prison, respectively.

According to the allegations in the criminal complaint in Manhattan federal court, Khobragade prepared and electronically submitted an application for an A-3 visa, which is a US visa for domestic workers and servants, through the website for the US Department of State's Consular Electronic Application Center for an Indian national who was to be the personal employee of Khobragade beginning in November 2012 in New York.

The Visa Application stated that the Indian worker employed by Khobragade was to be paid USD 4,500 per month. According to an employment contract, Khobragade would pay the domestic help the prevailing or minimum wage, whichever is greater, resulting in an hourly salary of USD 9.75.

However, the domestic help worked for Khobragade as a household employee from November 2012 to June 2013. The domestic help worked far more than 40 hours per week and was paid less than USD 9.75 per hour.


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