The Central Bureau of Investigation has made the Protector of Emigrants in Kochi as the first accused in a scam related to the recruitment of nurses to Kuwait Health Ministry. The Kochi unit of the CBI on Tuesday registered an FIR against PoE Adolfus Lawrence and recruiting agency Al Zarafa Travels, which is arraigned as the second accused in the case.
According to the CBI, Al Zarafa Travels, owned by Uthup Varghese of Kottayam, had recruited 435 nurses to Kuwait collecting at least Rs 19.5 lakh from each applicant when the agency was supposed to collect a service charge of Rs 19,500.
The agency was awarded a deal to recruit 1,200 nurses to Kuwait. After illegally collecting such a huge amount from the applicants, the agency forced them to give in writing that the collected amount was only the mandatory service charge of Rs 19,500.
CBI had raided the offices and residences of the PoE and Al Zafara Travels owner Uthupu Varghese. Earlier, the Income Tax Department has 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, who paid the money.
One of the applicants had furnished a complaint with PoE about the illegal practice of collecting huge amount by the recruitment agency. The PoE forwarded the complaint to the agency, which, in turn, allegedly threatened the complainant and forced her to withdraw her complaint.
The case was registered against the PoE and the travel 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.