Friday, January 10, 2014

India's Diplomat Khobragade Leaves The U.S. To Avoid Prosecution For Visa Fraud And Lying To Feds

Devyani Khobragade

Khobragade was facing up to 15 years in a federal prison, if convicted for visa fraud and making false statements.

By H. Nelson Goodson
January 10, 2014

New York, New York - On Thursday,  Devyani Khobragade, 39, of Mumbai, India's acting consul general and deputy consul general for political, economic, commercial and women's affairs at the New York Indian Consulate General was charged with two federal felony counts for visa fraud and making false statements. Khobragade had claimed diplomatic immunity back in December, but the U.S. wouldn't recognize her claim. She was then moved to the United Nations by the government of India to regain her diplomatic immunity. 
The U.S. State Department and a federal judge on Thursday allowed for Khobragade to leave the country after she requested to go back to India and recognized her status. India had denied the U.S. request to strip Khobragade from diplomatic immunity. The government of India transferred Khobragade to Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi. 
The federal charges against Khobragade will remain in effect,  in case she ever returns to the U.S.
In December, Khobragade was taken into custody by feds while she dropped her child at a school. She has two young girls.
Khobragade posted a $250,000 bail after pleading not guilty in and had to surrender all her travel documents. If convicted, Khobragade was facing up to 15 years in a federal prison.
Khobragade's lawyer attempted to use diplomatic immunity,  but the U.S. denied the claim and says, visa fraud was not covered under the Vienna convention.
Khobragade allegedly made false statements when she applied for a visa for a house worker who was a babysitter. The criminal complaint states, Khobragade paid her babysitter $3.31 an hour and worked more than 40 hours per week. She claimed in the visa application, which she helped the worker fill out and to falsify, that she paid the domestic worker from India 4,500 per month. Authorities say, another document used as a contract between Khobragade and the worker showed that she actually paid her $3,927 less per month than what was reported on the visa application. She actually paid the domestic worker $500 per month, far less than the NY minimum wage of $9.75.
Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern Dristrict of New York says, that domestic workers brought to work in the U.S. from foreign countries deserve the same wage as other American workers are guarantee to get.
Federal prosecutors say, both her husband and the doemstic worker involved are expected to testify against Khobragade.
Khobragade is known for advocating for women's rights, but the federal criminal charges has embarrassed the diplomat. 

No comments: