Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Police move on old pension fund scam at India's Jet Airways

 India's criminal investigation agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), has named 15 people in connection with a historical provident fund fraud that left pilots at the defunct Jet Airways (JAI, Mumbai International) short-changed.

Multiple Indian media outlets report that 13 former Jet Airways employees and a husband and wife team at the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) were formally named as breaching s.120-B of India's Penal Code and ss.7 and 12 of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The alleged fraud, which occurred between 2003 and 2006, saw EPFO employees Machindra Bamne and his wife Rupali receive approximately INR177,000 Indian rupees (USD2,154) in exchange for covering up payment shortfalls to the provident fund totalling INR35.5 million (USD432,123). The husband and wife team received the payments into their bank accounts.

Jet Airways, which ceased flying in 2019 and is now under new ownership and attempting to relaunch, was responsible for forwarding provident fund contributions made by its pilots to the EPFO. Another EPFO department detected the payment shortfalls in 2007. They submitted several formal payment requests and later visited Jet Airways' offices for audit and verification purposes, with little success, according to formal statements later made by EPFO compliance officers.

Two decades after the alleged offending began, the CBI released its first information report (FIR) on July 11. The FIR is the first formal step in criminal proceedings. Authorities are seeking to determine who received the missing INR35.5 million, given that it never landed in the provident fund accounts of the pilots.

18/07/2023 ch-aviation

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