According to officials here, 64 Schengen Visa files related to people with a high risk of migration have gone missing from the French Embassy here following a massive fraud allegedly committed by two former employees who were arrested by the CBI recently.
Former embassy officials Shubham Shokeen and Aarti Mandal allegedly made Rs 32,00,000 by clearing the files of questionable candidates, they alleged.
It is alleged that Shokeen and Mandal handled 484 visa files between January 1 and May 6, of which 64 were related to individuals who were at high risk of migration, such as young farmers or unemployed Punjabi individuals who were unfamiliar with travel and lacked the required profile to hold a Schengen Visa.
In order to leave no traces of this illicit activity, the agency suspects Mandal and Shokeen destroyed the documents and files from the visa department.
In searches conducted on Friday last, the CBI recovered documents and electronic evidence such as laptops, mobile phones, suspicious passports, etc., in Delhi, Patiala, Gurdaspur, and Jammu.
According to the agency, Shokeen and Mandal, both former employees of the Visa Department of the French Embassy in New Delhi, committed visa fraud between January and May of this year. As part of the FIR, three other accused Navjot Singh, a Jammu and Kashmiri citizen, and Chetan Sharma and Satwinder Singh Purewal, both from Punjab, were allegedly charged with submitting fake and forged letters purporting to be written by Maersk Fleet Management and Technology India Private Limited, Bangalore to the Consulate General of France, Bengaluru, requesting entry visas for joining Emma Maersk, Edith Maersk, and Munkebo Maersk, respectively, at Port-LeHavre, France.
According to the CBI spokesperson, “Applicants from Punjab and Jammu submitted fake and forged letters purporting to be written by a private company located in Bengaluru to the Consulate General of France in Bengaluru for the purpose of obtaining entry visas to join private companies in Port-Le-Havre, France in accordance with the said criminal conspiracy.”
According to the CBI, Shokeen and Mandal were granted visas for Rs 50,000 each without the knowledge and approval of the head of the visa department at the embassy and disposed of the records related to those visas.