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December 5, 2023 9:18 pm

CBI conducts raids in Punjab in French Embassy Visa fraud case

The Fact News Service
New Delhi August 26

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday conducted searches at the premises of an agent, based in Ludhiana, in an ongoing investigation of a case related to VISA Fraud in the French Embassy.

During the search, incriminating materials were recovered. A cash of approximately Rs 70.10 Lakh (in the denomination of Rs 2000) was also recovered from a bank locker at Ludhiana.

During the investigation of the said case, the involvement of Balwinder Singh Bartia based at Machhiwara, Ludhiana in facilitating issuance of Schengen VISAs to the VISA applicants also came to light.

It was alleged that he collected cash amounts ranging from Rs 25 lakh to Rs 45 lakh from each VISA applicant for getting a Schengen VISA from the Embassy of France, New Delhi.

The CBI had registered a case against six private persons including two, earlier working in the Visa Department of the Embassy of France, New Delhi, and others on the allegations of Visa Fraud in the Embassy of France in New Delhi.

It was alleged that the two accused working in the Visa Department of the Embassy of France, New Delhi, conspired with others and perpetrated visa fraud during the period from January 1, 2022 to May 6, 2022.

It was further alleged that in pursuance to the said 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.

On being approached by the applicants the said two officials in the Visa Department of the Embassy allegedly issued Entry Visas in favour of three other accused after taking illegal gratification of Rs. 50,000 per Visa, without the knowledge and approval of the Head of the Visa Department, Embassy of France, New Delhi.

It was also alleged that after the issuance of the Entry Visa, the said two officials displaced/destroyed the documents/files from the Visa Department.

It was further alleged that several files were allegedly handled by these accused which mostly pertained to individuals i.e. young farmers or unemployed people from Punjab who had not earlier travelled and that the accused had perpetrated fraud of huge amount in the Visa Department of the Embassy.

Searches were earlier conducted in December 2022 at six locations including Delhi, Patiala, Gurdaspur and Jammu at the premises of the accused. Incriminating documents or articles including laptops, mobile phones, suspicious passports etc. were recovered.

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