CBI arrests Protector of Emigrants in nursing recruitment scam

In a major breakthrough in the Rs 230 crore nursing recruitment scam, Kochi unit of CBI today arrested Protector of Emigrants, Adolphus Lawrence, for his alleged involvement in it. The arrest was based on the undue favours he  extended to a  Kochi based recruiting agency called, Al ZarafaTravel and Manpower Consultants, for illegally mobilising huge sums from the nurses.

Al Zarafa had collected Rs 19.5 lakh from each nurse who sought for overseas assignments in Kuwait. The government fixed service charge  was  Rs 19,500 only. Misleading the nurses, Uthup Varghese, managing director of the company  had collected huge sums, that comes to the tune of roughly Rs 230 crore, CBI sources said. CBI and the Enforcement department had collected Rs 4 crore from the office of Al Zarafa and also confiscated several documents. Adolphus had favoured them despite his knowledge about the illegal deeds of the company, CBI said.

When interrogated,  staff members of Al Zarafa said that Adolphus had  received Rs 3 lakh from Uthup as bribe.  He is a native of Kollam in Kerala and is working under  the ministry of Overseas Indians Affairs. CBI sources said that they will interrogate him further for more  evidences.

CBI had already issued a look out notice for Uthup Varghese who is absconding. Reports said that he had  left to Kuwaitwhen CBI raided his office and residence. The agency also sought Interpol help to snatch  him.

On Friday,  Kerala High Court  dismissed an  anticipatory bail petition filed by the  main accused Uthup Varghese.  The court has also directed  him to surrender before it. Al Zarafa agency had made an agreement with Kuwait Health Ministry to recruit 1200 nurses. According to government norms, only Rs 19,500 can be taken as service fees from a person. But the agency  took Rs 19.5 lakh from each  person. In this way, the company had  ilegally amassed Rs 230 crore. After illegally collecting such a huge amount,  the agency forced them to give in writing that the collected amount was only the mandatory service charge of Rs 19,500.

Earlier, the Income Tax Department had found that the recruitment racket had pocketed Rs 110 crore from the job aspirants. The amount was collected without giving any receipts to the applicants. One of the applicants had furnished a complaint with PoE about the illegal practice of collecting huge amount by the recruitment agency.  PoE forwarded the complaint to the agency, which  in tu
rn, allegedly threatened the complainant and forced her to withdraw her complaint. The case was registered against the PoE and the  agency as per section 13(1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, sections 120(b) and 420 of IPC and section 25 of the Emigration Act.


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