NEW YORK—Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara issued a statement Dec. 19 to correct “misinformation and factual inaccuracy” in media reports about last Thursday’s arrest of deputy consul general of India in New York, Devyani Khobragade.
Khobragade was arrested in relation to a fraudulent visa application for a nanny for her children. According to the criminal complaint, Khobragade allegedly gave the woman two employment contracts while still in India, one with a wage of around $4000 a month, which the employee was to provide with her US visa application. The other contract, the one that Khobragade allegedly told the woman would be her actual wage, was around $570 a month.
The woman arrived in the US with Khobragade in late November last year, and worked for her through to June 2013.
As is alleged in the criminal complaint, “She clearly tried to evade U.S. law designed to protect from exploitation the domestic employees of diplomats and consular officers. Not only did she try to evade the law, but as further alleged, she caused the victim and her spouse to attest to false documents and be a part of her scheme to lie to U.S. government officials,” Bharara said in the statement issued Wednesday.
“She was not, as has been incorrectly reported, arrested in front of her children. The agents arrested her in the most discreet way possible, and unlike most defendants, she was not then handcuffed or restrained,” Bharara said. “In fact, the arresting officers did not even seize her phone as they normally would have. Instead, they offered her the opportunity to make numerous calls to arrange personal matters and contact whomever she needed, including allowing her to arrange for child care. This lasted approximately two hours.
“Because it was cold outside, the agents let her make those calls from their car and even brought her coffee and offered to get her food.
“It is true that she was fully searched by a female Deputy Marshal—in a private setting—when she was brought into the U.S. Marshals’ custody, but this is standard practice for every defendant, rich or poor, American or not, in order to make sure that no prisoner keeps anything on his person that could harm anyone, including himself. This is in the interests of everyone’s safety,” Bharara said.
Bharara said it was “important to correct these inaccuracies because they are misleading people and creating an inflammatory atmosphere on an unfounded basis.
“Although I am quite limited in my role as a prosecutor in what I can say, which in many ways constrains my ability here to explain the case to the extent I would like, I can nevertheless make sure the public record is clearer than it has been thus far,” Bharara said in the statement.
Ms. Khobragade is the deputy consul general for political, economic, commercial, and women’s affairs at the Indian Consulate in New York City.