Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade gave no sick leave, paid $1 to maid: US court papers

Jan 11 2014, 10:45 IST
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Devyani Khobragade (AP) Devyani Khobragade (AP)
SummaryIndian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, arrested on visa fraud charge, coached the nanny to mislead officials.

Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade accused of visa fraud and lying about underpaying her maid coached the nanny to mislead US officials, confiscated her passport and made her work 100-hour, seven-day weeks, according to a US grand jury indictment.

Devyani Khobragade, who was India's deputy consul-general in New York, was effectively expelled from the United States on Thursday as part of a deal in which she was granted diplomatic immunity from the charges.

US court indictment papers, published on the website of the US attorney's office of the Southern District of New York, painted a picture of a maid refused sick days and holidays while working for a salary of little over $1 an hour in New York, or about one-seventh the minimum wage.

Devyani Khobragade's arrest set off protests in India after disclosures that she was handcuffed and strip-searched. The dispute soured US-India ties, leading to sanctions against American diplomats in New Delhi and the postponement of visits to India by senior US officials.

Devyani Khobragade denies all charges and has been backed by the Indian government. Khobragade's lawyer Daniel Arshack said on Thursday she would leave with her head "held high."

"She knows she has done no wrong and she looks forward to assuring that the truth is known," he said in a statement.

The indictment underscored the wildly divergent stories from both sides. The diplomat's relatives and government officials say the allegations are exaggerated and are being used by the maid, Sangeeta Richard, to get compensation or US residency.

Many Indian commentators said Richard had a relatively comfortable life, with full board and lodging, free cable TV and medical care. They say it is misleading to calculate weekly working hours for live-in staff.

Uttam Khobragade, the diplomat's father, said Richard lived a luxurious life, that she went to the beauty parlour every alternate week, and purchased an iPhone.

"Does even Nancy Powell's maid servant have such luxuries?" he said to Reuters, referring to the US ambassador to India. "She was having a gala time there."

TWO CONTRACTS

The indictment said that Devyani Khobragade first made the maid sign a contract that stipulated she would be paid around $9.75 an hour. Khobragade told US officials in the visa application that the maid would be paid $4,500 a month.

But on the evening of flying from India to the United States, Richard was called to Devyani Khobragade's house in Delhi.

She was told she needed to sign a second work contract, with a

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