British Airways supervisor on the run in India over visa racket: Report

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British police are working with their Indian counterparts to trace a British Airways supervisor believed to be on the run in India after his role in an alleged GBP 3 million visa scam from over five years came to light, according to a UK media report on Tuesday. ‘The Sun’ newspaper reports that the unnamed 24-year-old suspect worked at Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport and is said to have charged customers GBP 25,000 per trip to abuse a loophole and fly them across the British Airways (BA) network without crucial visa documents.

British police are now said to be working with their Indian counterparts to try to trace the man, who reportedly vanished with his partner – a BA ground services staffer – after he was arrested on January 6 and released on bail. He is believed to have flown out to India where he has reportedly bought several properties. “As part of his fiddle, he got clients, most from India, to fly to the UK on a temporary visitor visa where he arranged for them to jet elsewhere,” the newspaper reports.

“Other clients were UK-based asylum claimants who feared being returned to their country of origin. Canadian authorities raised the alarm after years of BA flights to Toronto and Vancouver on which arrivals would immediately declare asylum,” it adds. An investigation into the issue discovered that all passengers were checked in by the same man who wrongly verified the travellers had an electronic travel authorisation (ETA) to enter a chosen country. An ETA can be applied for by a passenger only in their country of origin and therefore should have been rejected.

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“He exploited a loophole knowing that immigration checks are no longer carried out by officials but are left to airline staff,” ‘The Sun’ newspaper quoted a source as saying. “By inputting wrong data, and claiming eTA documents had been secured, he got people to countries they had no permission to enter in the first place. On arrival, the bogus passengers would shred their documents and claim asylum. Many jetted to Britain to pay him to get them to Canada,” the source said, adding that the full extent of the scam remains unknown. “We’re assisting the authorities with their investigation,” a BA spokesperson said.