M. Varghese Uthup, who is at the center of illegal nurses’ recruitment to Kuwait and other parts of the Gulf region is now sought by the Interpol for his alleged involvement in the Rs 200 crore scam, according to India’s Central Bureau of Investigation official. The 48-year-old Uthup hails from the southern Indian state of Kerala, the state from which a majority of nurses seek jobs in the Gulf states including Kuwait. Uthup’s Kochi-based recruiting firm is alleged to have been recruiting nurses to Kuwait and instead of collecting a service charge of Rs 19,500 only, it was collecting Rs 1,950,000.
Reports indicate his firm has recruited close to 1,000 nurses over the past one year. Last month, a raid by the Income Tax department at the recruitment agency found huge sums of unaccounted money there. Uthup’s anticipatory bail was rejected by the Kerala High Court last month, following which the CBI was working with the government authorities to seek the help of Interpol, since it was widely reported that Uthup was shuttling between some Middle East countries. “Now that Uthup’s name has been published in the Interpol wanted list, they will also be on the lookout for him. Uthup, who has been evading arrest is expected to be caught soon,” said CBI official.
Uthup is accused of cheating, criminal conspiracy with a public servant to commit criminal misconduct under the Prevention of Corruption Act, and collection of excess service charges from emigrants. The CBI stepped in after a nurse who had paid fees to the agency but decided not to take up the job alleged that she did not get her money back. She said she approached the Protector of Emigrants (PoE) L. Adolfus for help to get her money back from the recruitment agency, but got a cold response. Adolfus, who was arrested by the CBI, got bail on Wednesday, the CBI official said.
The PoE, who is required to protect and give advice to all intending emigrants during their journey works under the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, and is responsible for granting emigration clearance to intending emigrants as per the procedure laid down in the Emigration Act of 1983. Earlier the CBI had filed three lawsuits against the country’s Protector of Emigrants in connection with the illegal hiring of nurses to work in Kuwait by recruitment agencies based in Kochi, Mumbai, Changanassery and Adoor, according to reliable Indian sources.
In the first lawsuit, CBI had named A.L. as the first accused for illegal recruitment by two recruitment agencies, both based in Mumbai. The PoE was named as the first accused for procedural lapses for failing to stop illegal recruitments. In the second case, A.L. was named as the first accused for permitting illegal recruitment by another Kochi-based agency identified only as J.K. I. In the third case, CBI had arraigned the first accused for permitting unauthorized recruitment by Changanassery-based agency P.A. Tours and Travels.
According to CBI, the PoE permitted recruitments by Pan Asia in the name of Aroor-based Trust International Overseas Manpower after the expiry of its licence. The Indian Government said the recruitment of Indian nurses will be done only through the government agencies such as the Overseas Development and Employment Promotion Consultants (ODEPC), Non-Resident Keralites Affairs Department (NORKA-Roots) — the agency that looks after the welfare of the Kerala diaspora — and the Tamil Nadu Overseas Manpower Corporation Ltd (TNOMCL).
Source: Arab Times