Friday 28 October 2016

Visa Fraud: Indian Suspects Fled After Wiring 1 Mn Dollars

Natasha Chaku/Melbourne

An Indian woman, a former employee of the Australian immigration department who reportedly fled to India along with her husband with over one million dollars, was involved in running an illegal migration racket in the country, according to a media report today.

Reetika Ajjan and her spouse Jeetender fled with the money three days after their home was raided by Australian authorities in 2011, according to Fairfax report.

The couple was traced down by Fairfax Media as living in New Delhi. The report said that Ajjan was involved in running a three million dollar migration racket which was run by her husband and a licenced migration agent Mahimn Sodhani.

It said that Ajjan was allegedly supplying sensitive government information and equipment to migration business run by her husband and Sodhani which resulted in over 1000 fraudulent visa applications.

She could face fraud, theft and proceeds-of-crime charges in Australia, according to the report. The couple wired 1.2 million dollars to India, including one transfer of 543,000 dollars made by Ajjan.

"The AFP (Australian Federal Police) is trying to repatriate these funds as part of proceeds of crime referral, but given the funds were sent to India, this may be difficult to achieve," the report said, citing a leaked file.

The couple managed to flee Australia as Immigration Department failed to seize passports or ensure a criminal charge against them quickly.

The latest scam has surfaced after Immigration Minister Scott Morrison yesterday sought an urgent report from his department about allegations of widespread visa fraud and migration crime.

Morrison, in a statement, said the reports regarding serious integrity matters in our immigration programme relate to alleged events that occurred under the previous government.

"The Abbott Government will address weaknesses in the system wherever it is required with the same resolve we have shown in stopping the boats," he said.

"The government takes its responsibilities to ensure the integrity of our immigration programme very seriously. That is why we have taken actions to protect the integrity of our immigration programme whether through our border protection operations, closing loopholes in the system, or increasing the level of compliance activity across various visa categories including 457s."

He said that "given the government's strong commitment in this area, I have sought an urgent report from my department on these matters and will consider what further action is then necessary after receiving this initial response."

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