Using the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) between India and the United States, the Thane police will seek information about the 61 people in the US, including 32 Indians, who have been charged by the US Justice Department with involvement in the Mira Road call centre scam that was busted recently.
The Justice Department’s indictment, which came on Thursday, said that by masquerading as Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents, operators of the call centres “threatened potential victims with arrest, imprisonment, fines or deportation if they did not pay taxes or penalties to the government”. The 61 people charged in the US are believed to have assisted them in the scam.
A senior Thane crime branch official told HT on Friday that efforts are on to seek details of the findings through MLAT channels. “We are not inclined to send letters rogatory (a formal request from a court to a foreign court for judicial assistance) as we want to avoid the lengthy legalities associated with it. Using MLAT will cut these procedural delays and expedite the investigation,” the official said.
“Through the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is the liaison authority with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), we will seek information from the US Justice Department about those indicted in connection with the call centre scam in their country. We have extended them help through similar channels and hope for a prompt reciprocation,” the official added.
Meanwhile, Thane police commissioner Param Bir Singh said, “We came to know that 61 people have been charged by the justice department. We will do the necessary paperwork with the FBI to seek information about the detainees and their role in the call centre scam.” The Thane police are yet to identify the operatives of the scam in the US or the money-laundering aspect of the scam, and Singh said the questioning of those detained in the US could throw light on these aspects.
On October 15, Suhel Daud, an FBI official who works as deputy legal attaché at the US embassy in New Delhi, met Singh to discuss the investigation. Singh said the discussion centered on information the Thane police had extracted from the arrested accused. Daud also provided certain inputs to aid the investigation.
MLAT was signed and ratified by India and the US in 2005. Under the treaty, the two countries agreed to help each other on the investigation, prosecution, prevention and suppression of various crimes, including those relating to terrorism, narcotics, trafficking, economic and organised crime.