Two employment contracts signed between Devyani Khobragade and her maid Sangeeta Richard have been submitted to a court here by U.S. prosecutors as a proof that the Indian diplomat had allegedly made false statements to American authorities.
As a grand jury indicted 39-year-old Khobragade on charges of visa fraud and making false statements, U.S. top prosecutor Preet Bharara submitted seven documents with the federal court in Manhattan.
One of these exhibits is the employment contract signed between Ms. Khobragade and her maid on November 11, 2012 that was submitted with the U.S. Embassy when Richard went for her visa interview.
The contract states that under the employment conditions that will apply to Ms. Khobragade and Ms. Richard “during the period of employment in the U.S.,” Ms. Richard will be paid $9.75 per hour as per “wages at the prevailing or minimum wage rate as required by law, whichever is greater”. It said she would work 40 hours per week with an off on Sunday.
It also adds that wages to Ms. Richard should be paid “biweekly by electronic fund transfer” to her bank account.
Neither Ms. Khobragade nor Ms. Richard’s “family members will have access to the employee’s bank account,” it added.
Another document submitted by Mr. Bharara is an “India non-judicial e-stamp,” which is a separate employment contract dated November 21, 2012 between Ms. Khobragade and Ms. Richard. In this it is stated that Ms. Richard will be paid “an expected salary of Rs. 25,000 per month with an additional Rs. 5,000 for overtime i.e., work on Sunday, after hours and for parties.” It goes on to say that the “maximum” salary per month including overtime allowance “will not exceed” Rs. 30,000 per month.
It is these two employment contracts that are at the crux of the criminal charges that Mr. Bharara has brought against Ms. Khobragade.
The indictment said that Ms. Khobragade’s “decision to manufacture a fraudulent employment agreement” showing the $9.75 hourly wage and which appear to be complying with the requirements of U.S. law “demonstrated clearly” Ms. Khobragade’s knowledge of the applicable legal requirements.
However, she never intended to pay Ms. Richard the $9.75 hourly wage and so made a separate contract with her which said that Ms. Richard will be paid Rs. 30,000 a month, the indictments added.
“Knowing that if the U.S. authorities were told the truth about the actual terms of her employment agreement with the victim (Richard), Khobragade would not have been able to obtain a visa for the victim, Khobragade decided to make false statements to the U.S. authorities,” it said.
The indictment added that in the second contract that Ms. Khobragade signed with Ms. Richard, she “specifically deleted” a provision acknowledging that Ms. Khobragade “agrees to abide by federal, state and local laws in the U.S.”