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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Sep 2014

American school under scanner for ‘visa fraud’

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, January 16, 2014
First Published: 17:58 IST(16/1/2014) | Last Updated: 08:42 IST(17/1/2014)

The government has put the American school next to the US Embassy in New Delhi under the scanner for what sources have termed as an “institutionalised fraud” on visa norms, tax rules and misuse of diplomatic privileges in the category of “tax exempted teachers” granted in 1973.

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The nature of these “frauds” could include one salary account for both husband and wife employed in the same school, since the wife could have shown her status as a homemaker in the visa application, sources familiar with these developments told HT.

As per a 1973 understanding between India and the US, 16 teachers of the school have “tax exempted status”. If the salary of a wife is added to that of a husband —both employed in the school — it amounts to misuse of privileges and circumventing country’s tax laws.

This could also be seen as India now finding charges of “visa fraud”— the same charge for which diplomat Devyani Khobragde was indicted before being sent out of the US.

“We are aware of the reports. These are serious issues relating to visa and tax matters. We will examine them very carefully,” spokesperson of the external affairs ministry Syed Akbaruddin said.

To a query on irregularities in the American school, the US embassy spokesperson Peter Vrooman told HT, “These diplomatic communications continue,” while diverting the reporter to the state department media note on January 14 issued after the meeting between the US deputy secretary William Burns and Indian envoy to US S Jaishankar.

“….Deputy secretary Burns and ambassador Jaishankar also discussed the variety of issues raised by the external affairs ministry via a diplomatic note, including alleged issues with the American embassy school. Burns conveyed that we take their concerns very seriously and will continue to address them via appropriate diplomatic channels”.

The American school on American government-owned land has about 1500 students on its rolls, nearly 500 of whom are from the US.


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