India calls for quick action after diplomat arrested in New York

NEW YORK Fri Dec 13, 2013 12:43pm EST

Related Topics

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Indian officials called for quick resolution of a criminal case involving a senior female diplomat who was arrested in New York on federal charges of visa fraud in lying about how much she paid her housekeeper, an Indian national.

An attorney for the diplomat, 39-year-old Devyani Khobragade, said on Friday he expects "the case to be resolved with a full vindication of in very short order," while the officials from India's embassy in Washington called on prosecutors to "resolve the matter with due sensitivity" to the woman's diplomatic status.

Khobragade, deputy consul general for political, economic, commercial and women's affairs at the Indian Consulate in New York, was arrested on Thursday and charged with one count of visa fraud and one count of making false statements.

U.S. ambassador to India Nancy Powell was summoned on Friday to meet with India's foreign secretary Sujatha Singh, who conveyed "shock" over the "absolutely unacceptable" treatment of the diplomat by U.S. authorities, according to the Times of India.

U.S. prosecutors said Khobragade claimed in visa applications to be paying an Indian national who worked as a housekeeper in her Upper East Side residence about $4,500 a month, when in fact, she was paying her about 30,000 Indian rupees, or $480 a month, at current exchange rates. That works out to a wage of about $3.31 an hour, or less than half the $7.25 legal minimum, according to prosecutors.

Khobragade, who was released on $250,000 bail after pleading not guilty to the charges and surrendering her passport, faces a maximum of 15 years in jail if convicted on both counts.

Her attorney, Daniel Arshack, called on U.S. diplomats to "express their displeasure with the U.S. Department of Justice decisions" in this case.

The Indian embassy said that a court in India has issued an arrest warrant for the housekeeper, whose current whereabouts are not known. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, declined to comment on Friday.

The housekeeper, who is not named in court papers, worked for Khobragade from November 2012 until June 2013.

Federal prosecutors in New York released a statement on Thursday saying that Khobragade broke the law and would be prosecuted.

"Foreign nationals brought to the United States to serve as domestic workers are entitled to the same protections against exploitation as those afforded to United States citizens," said Bharara, who is the top federal prosecutor in the district.

Calls to the Indian embassy in Washington and the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi were not immediately returned.

($1 U.S. = 62.125 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Chris Francescani; Editing by Scott Malone and Gunna Dickson)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (8)
veethevee wrote:
come to America with fraud means death penalty.

Dec 13, 2013 12:59pm EST  --  Report as abuse
NoorJehan wrote:
NYPD did the right action by handcuffing the Indian diplomat for US VISA fraud crime. I thank the NYPD for handcuffing crminals.
Why Government of India is shocked for arresting criminal. United States of America deliver justice to everyone no matter how big or small person is. In India the criminal can get away very easily after commiting henious crime not in USA. These people with high
post bring maid from India and treat them like slaves. This case is not new there are unreported similar cases. Slavary is abolished.

Dec 14, 2013 12:36pm EST  --  Report as abuse
swapnilfegade wrote:
Indian Government, Indian police, politicians and officials are corrupt. Corruption is in their blood. Making false statements for self benefit is very common in India. Fraud usually wins in India but not in the USA. This Indian diplomat also seems to have a history of frauds, scams right from India (please read the website links following my comments). Also, this is not US vs India, but India vs India case, because the complainant is also an Indian servant (diplomats personal servant). Since, this is a fraud complaint in the USA, and visa fraud complaint, this country is obliged to prosecute it. I general, Indian hypocrite Government always makes other issues as a political issues. I am ashamed to be called an Indian Citizen. If the servant is true, then she may need to be protected from Indian Government’s future torture on her. Yes, if someone lodges a complaint on Indian Government, police, politician or even on wealthy Indian then the complainant is always tortured in India because Indian politicians misuse their powers to do it. I just pray to God that this issue be resolved peacefully and whosoever is a criminal (either Indian diplomat-for visa fraud or her Indian complainant servant-for filing false complaint) must be punished.

-Swapnil Fegade
A husband, allowed to be abused by Indian Government

Dec 14, 2013 12:38pm EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

Full focus