Files of 64 people with high risk of migration ‘disappear’ from French Embassy

Former embassy officials Shubham Shokeen and Aarti Mandal allegedly made Rs 32,00,000, charging Rs 50,000 per visa by clearing files of questionable candidates

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Files related to Schengen Visa of 64 people having a high risk of migration have “disappeared” from the French Embassy here in a massive fraud allegedly committed by its two former employees booked by the CBI recently, officials said Monday.

Former embassy officials Shubham Shokeen and Aarti Mandal allegedly made Rs 32,00,000, charging Rs 50,000 per visa by clearing files of questionable candidates, they said.

It is alleged that Shokeen and Mandal handled 484 visa files between January 1 and May 6, of which 64 files pertained to individuals having a “high risk” of migration, like young farmers or unemployed persons from Punjab who had never travelled before and lacked the profile to hold a Schengen Visa. The agency suspects that Mandal and Shokeen allegedly destroyed the documents and files from the visa department to leave no traces of this illicit activity, they said.

The CBI on Friday last conducted searches in Delhi, Patiala, Gurdaspur and Jammu, during which documents and electronic evidence like laptops, mobile phones and suspicious passports etc., have been recovered.

The agency has alleged that Shokeen and Mandal, both former workers at the Visa Department of the embassy of France in New Delhi, committed visa fraud in a conspiracy from January to May this year.

The CBI has alleged that three other accused booked in the FIR–Navjot Singh from Jammu and Kashmir and Chetan Sharma and Satwinder Singh Purewal, both from Punjab had allegedly submitted fake and forged letters purportedly written by Maersk Fleet Management and Technology India Private Limited, Bangalore to the Consulate General of France, Bengaluru, for issuing entry visas for their joining at Emma Maersk, Edith Maersk, and Munkebo Maersk, respectively at Port-Le-Havre, France.

“It was further alleged that in pursuance to the said criminal conspiracy, applicants from Punjab and Jammu submitted fake and forged letters purportedly written by a private company based at Bengaluru to the Consulate General of France, Bengaluru, for issuing entry visas for their joining private companies in Port-Le-Havre, France,” a CBI spokesperson had said in a statement.

The CBI has alleged that Shokeen and Mandal facilitated their visa for Rs 50,000 each without the knowledge and approval of the visa department Head at the embassy and displaced the records.

(With PTI inputs)

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