Prime accused in nurses recruitment scam held

The prime accused in a multi-crore scam related to sending nurses to work in Kuwait was arrested in Kochi on Monday by the Enforcement Directorate, an official said.

Proceedings have begun to attach his properties on the charges that he had smuggled out crores of Rupees to many countries through the 'hawala' route in 2015, he said.

Uthup Varghese, owner of a Kochi-based private agency which recruited the nurses, has been charged under various sections of the Prevention of Money-laundering Act, the official said.

Uthup would be produced before court, he said.

The Enforcement Directorate would seek custody of Uthup as his interrogation was required, the official said.

Uthup was arrested by the CBI in March last year when he had arrived at the airport in Kochi from a Gulf nation.

He was granted conditional bail by the High Court in August 2017.

He had left for the Gulf soon after the alleged scam surfaced three years ago.

Early last year, CBI had arrested the Protector of Emigrants, Kochi, L. Adolfus, suspected to be another key accused for allegedly hatching a conspiracy with Uthup to recruit the nurses.

Hundreds of nurses were recruited in the last one year after collecting Rs 19.50 lakh from each one of them, as against the mandatory service fee of Rs 19,500.

The applicants, who gave Rs 19.50 lakh, were asked to give in writing that only Rs 19,500 was collected.

The CBI started probing into the case after the Income Tax Department found unaccounted money during a raid on the the agency.

(Agencies)