MUMBAI- The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has taken a significant step in addressing the multi-crore Provident Fund (PF) scam that affected Jet Airways (9W) employees.
Finally, after a year-long investigation, the CBI has registered an FIR against 15 individuals allegedly involved in the scam. The revelations came to light nearly a year after mid-day, an esteemed news outlet, brought the issue to public attention in August last year.
Jet Airways PF Scam and CBI Action
The PF scam was exposed by mid-day on August 20, 2022. Further highlighting its impact on Jet Airways employees, especially international pilots who faced job losses after the airline’s operations ceased in 2019.
Following the expose, the CBI initiated an investigation into the matter. Further, a team of dedicated officials from New Delhi camped in Kandivli for a week to conduct a confidential inquiry.
The FIR, filed on July 11, targets the key figures behind the scam, including EPFO employee Machindra Bamne, his wife Rupali, and 13 senior executives of Jet Airways. So far, no arrests have been made, but the CBI has visited the premises of some individuals under suspicion.
According to the FIR, Bamne, a Senior Social Security Assistant at the Kandivali PF office, allegedly received illegal gratification from various employees seeking settlement of their EPF claims in his and his wife’s bank accounts.
The investigation revealed suspicious credit transactions amounting to approximately Rs. 1.77 lacks in the accounts of Jet Airways employees, implicating 15 individuals.
This includes Rishiraj Singh Chawla, Raman Sharma, Kakrlapudi Sameerkumar, Vimal Kumar, Rajesh Pagare, Baikumtha Nayak, Paul Louis, Indrajit Mallick, Ahad Hussain, BEjoy James, Sam Thomas, Kedar Gokhale, and Divanath.
CBI’s Vigilance Department of the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) played a crucial role in exposing the irregularities and uncovering dubious transactions in Bamne’s bank accounts.
International Pilots Suffer Financial Crunch
The repercussions of the PF scam have hit former Jet Airways employees hard. Particularly international pilots hailing from various countries. Many of these pilots have been struggling financially. Especially due to the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the aviation industry.
Over a dozen former international workers have reached out to mid-day. Further sharing their stories of hardship and expressing their concerns that their emails to the EPFO, Kandivli office, remain unacknowledged.
As the investigation unfolds, CBI’s actions shed light on the alleged protection received by Bamne from certain senior EPFO officials.
The exposure by mid-days investigative reports prompted the CBI to take action, bringing the layers of the scam to the forefront.
The registration of the FIR has brought some relief to the affected former Jet Airways employees and those advocating for accountability within the EPFO.
CBT member Prabhakar Banasure expressed satisfaction that the FIR has been filed. Subsequently, he had previously raised the issue in various meetings without significant action being taken.
The CBI’s ongoing investigation will be crucial in unveiling the full extent of the PF scam and bringing the perpetrators to justice. As the case progresses, further revelations are expected to emerge. Subsequently, those involved will be held accountable for their actions.
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