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Devyani Khobragade re-indicted in US visa fraud case

Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, whose arrest and stripsearch soured India-US relations, was re-indicted on US visa fraud charges, a day after a US court dismissed an earlier indictment.

In fresh trouble for Khobragade, federal prosecutors re-indicted the Indian diplomat on charges of visa fraud and making false statements about the visa application of her domestic help.

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

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.”

The 21- page indictment 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 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.

The diplomat, who was transferred back to India and is now with the ministry of external affairs, has refuted the charges against her. The indictment gives details of the employment contract that Khobragade entered into with her domestic help Sangeeta Richard.

It further states that Khobragade “illegally underpaid and exploited the victim.”

The indictment said the diplomat kept Richard’s passport with her and said she would return the passport to the maid once her three-year term of employment was completed.

It also states that “escalating efforts” were made by Khobragde and others “to silence and intimidate the victim and her family and lie to Indian authorities and courts.”

Devyani Khobragade was arrested on December 12 outside her children’s New York school.

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