Preest Bharara does it again, re-indicts Devyani Khobragade in US visa fraud case

Mar 15 2014, 10:46 IST
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SummaryPreet Bharara accuses Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade of 'illegally' underpaying and 'exploiting' her domestic maid.

In fresh trouble for Devyani Khobragade, US prosecutors today re-indicted her on visa fraud charges and accused the Indian diplomat of "illegally" underpaying and "exploiting" her domestic maid.

Today's new charges, which came a day after a US court dismissed an earlier indictment, accused her of visa fraud and making false statements about the visa application of her maid Sangeeta Richard.

The 21-page indictment, filed by the office of India-born US prosecutor Preet Bharara, states that the diplomat "knowingly made" multiple false representations and presented false information to US authorities in order to obtain a visa for a personal domestic worker.

The fresh indictment filed in a federal court in Manhattan also charges that Khobragade submitted to the US State Department an employment contract of her domestic worker which she knew contained "materially false and fraudulent statements."

A grand jury has returned a true bill today on the two-count criminal indictment of Khobragade.

The indictment said that "Khobragade did not want to pay the victim the required wages under US law or provide the victim with other protections against exploitative work conditions mandated by US law.

"Knowing that if the US authorities were told the truth about the actual terms of her employment agreement with the victim, Khobragade would not have been able to obtain a visa for the victim, Khobragade decided to make false statements to the US authorities," it said.

Khobragade was arrested on December 12 on visa fraud charges and for making false statements regarding the visa application of Richard.

She was strip-searched and held with criminals, triggering a row between the two countries with India retaliating by downgrading privileges of certain category of US diplomats among other steps.

The diplomat, who was transferred back to India and is now with the Ministry of External Affairs, has refuted the charges against her.

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