Three more workers of the popular restaurant chain Saravana Bhavan were sent to jail by a local court for visa fraud on Wednesday, taking the number of those behind bars in the case to five.
These include PR Sivakumar, part owner of the global chain who was arrested Nov 8 for allegedly attempting to obtain US visas for employees using forged documents and whose bail application was on Tuesday rejected by a judicial magistrate.
"We have seized incriminating material, including passports, documents, ad hoc visiting cards and fake papers forged on computers along with the hard discs," Additional Director General of Police Archana Ramasundaram told IANS.
The US consulate, which discovered the racket and had sent a complaint to the state government earlier, has debarred Kumar from the US for life and cancelled a contract for prepacked vegetarian food from Saravana Bhavan, sources in the mission said.
"The arrests are the tip of an iceberg in a clandestine migration racket. Several film production units, IT companies and fly-by-night 'export' firms are involved in this business of smuggling persons seeking greener pastures abroad to western countries," said an official in the state police's crime investigation department.
"The modus operandi involves the creation of several original records in the form of passports, memberships of voluntary trade bodies, a paper trail of correspondence with foreign clients, fake property documents, appointment orders etc for almost eight months before visa applications are forwarded to foreign missions. The perpetrators seem to be advised on these operations by experts," the official added.
The method is also widely used by Sri Lankan Tamil émigrés through the film-shooting and/or overseas stage shows route, police sources said.
The Saravana Bhavan hotel chain has 47 outlets in India and seven abroad.