Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Maid Accuses NY Consul of ‘Forced Labor’

The Indian consulate in New York is back  in the headlines, and once again for unfortunate reasons.

Consulate General of India, New York
Prabhu Dayal, the Indian consul general in New York, shown in a file photo above, has been accused of ill-treating a former domestic helper.

Prabhu Dayal, the Indian consul general in New York, has been accused of treating a former domestic helper as a slave, The New York Post said in a report Tuesday.

Santosh Bhardwaj, 45 years old, Mr. Dayal’s former maid and the mother of four children, has filed a forced-labor suit for unspecified damages in federal court in Manhattan, according to the report.

Ms. Bhardwaj alleged that the Indian diplomat, who has been the Indian Consul General in New York since 2008, lured her to the U.S. with the promise of $10 an hour in wages with overtime to cook and clean for him and his wife, the report said.

Instead Mr. Dayal took away her passport and scarcely paid her $300 a month in conditions that approached slavery, she claimed, including forcing her to sleep in a storage closet, according to the report.

“I filed the complaint because I want to be paid for all the labor I provided and for all the injustice I suffered — and I want my passport returned,” Ms. Bhardwaj was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India. Other reports said she also claimed Mr. Dayal made a sexual advance toward her by asking her for a massage.

Mr. Dayal has denied the claims as “ [...]

Thanks, Admin,

Investors Should Stay Clear of GTL

After the spectacular fall in shares of GTL Infrastructure Ltd. and GTL Ltd. Monday this may seem like a good time to enter the companies’ stocks at bargain prices. But investors should hold off: the reasons for the sell-off remain unclear and the group’s businesses face significant challenges ahead, analysts say.

On Monday GTL's shares plummeted 64% to an all-year low of 124.10 rupees ($2.8) and GTL Infrastructure's fell 47.0% to an all-time low of 15.75 rupees ($0.4). GTL derives a bulk of its revenue from telecom tower firm GTL Infra, in which it holds a majority stake. Analysts blamed the fall on rumors that lenders to whom GTL's founders had pledged stock had sold the shares in the open market.  The group denied that any pledged shares had been sold. It is unclear which banks the founders had allegedly pledged the stock to.

Market talk that India was seeking to impose a capital gains tax on transactions routed through Mauritius shook the entire market, adding to the pressure to sell GTL and GTL Infra shares.  On Tuesday morning, Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee confirmed the two countries had resumed talks on their tax avoidance treaty.

On Tuesday, GTL gave up early gains and was trading 3.3% down at 123.85 rupees in afternoon trade, while GTL Infra rose 1.2% to 17.05 rupees ($0.4). The Sensex was up 0.6% in volatile trade as investors, nervous about possible changes in the India-Mauritius tax treaty, were using minor rallies to exit stocks.

GTL shareholders' woes began on Friday after the Economic Times reported that GTL Infra had scrapped plans to raise about $300 million from institutional investors due to adverse market conditions. The news sent shares of GTL and GTL Infra tumbling 16.5% and 7.3% respectively on Friday.  GTL Infra Monday clarified it had “never launched any road show” for the planned share sale as market conditions, global sentiment and cla [...]

Thanks, Admin,

Read This: The New Yorker on Galleon’s ‘King of Kings’

Suave men on Wall Street who have something to hide, a former beauty queen who slept with men for information, and millions of dollars in Swiss bank accounts.

Emmanuel Dunand/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
Above, Raj Rajaratnam after he was convicted for fraud and conspiracy in Wall Street’s biggest insider trading trial, in New York, this year.

That's a rich enough mix of elements to write a fascinating crime thriller. But it's even better when it all happened in real life.

We're referring to the story of Raj Rajaratnam, the son of a Sri Lankan sewing-machine company manager who became a hedge fund billionaire in New York, thanks to a network of informants who helped him game Wall Street.

The 53-year-old liked to tell people that his first name meant "king" in Hindi, and when coupled with his last name, made him a "king of kings." By late 2009, his hedge fund Galleon Group managed $3.7 billion in assets.

The Wall Street Journal has been tracking Mr. Rajaratnam's fate since October 2009 when he was charged with securities fraud. Last month, he was convicted on these and other charges in a court in New York.

Even those who have followed our coverage closely will find it enjoyable to read a behind-the-scenes narrative on this case published in the most recent edition of the New Yorker. In "A Dirty Business," writer George Packer lays out how Mr. Rajaratnam cultivated his web of tipsters, many of whom were South Asians.

The article describes [...]

Thanks, Admin,

Did Agent Chewing Gum Infiltrate Pranab’s Office?

The Indian Express led with a thriller today: India's Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, one of the nation's most powerful politicians with a portfolio that roams far beyond economics, had reported a security breach to the Prime Minister's Office.

Vijay Mathur/Reuters
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had reported a security breach to the Prime Minister's Office. Above, Mr. Mukherjee outside his office.

The headline plastered across the top of the front page conjured up exciting images of dirty dealings, spies, infiltration by foreign enemies or corporate interests.

The evidence: The discovery of 16 "planted adhesives" in ministry offices in North Block in September last year that "suggested a possible surveillance attempt" though the story noted in the third paragraph that no "live microphone" or recording devices were found.

But it looks like the culprit in this juicy crime caper might have been nothing more than chewing gum stuck — as is the habit of anti-social chewers — on, under, or at the edge of desks.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes, which hired private eyes to conduct a surveillance sweep, contended that the adhesives were "planted" at strategic places around the finance minister's and other offices. That included no fewer than three "adhesives" along the edge of Mr. Mukherjee's table.

The Intelligence Bureau, which presumably knows a thing or two about surveillance, disagreed, with two senior officials telling the Expr [...]

Thanks, Admin,

Global Visa Policies Change Game for Indian IT

In a report late last week research firm CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets downgraded the information technology sector because "the margin of safety" in these stocks has receded, it said. The main concerns enveloping the sector right now include a flattening growth rate, new, more stringent rules on work visas, and the challenges of coming up with a new business model as a result, the report said.

Associated Press
The U.S. government is probing whether Infosys abused a temporary business visa program. Above, the IT firm’s Bangalore headquarters.

More In outsourcing

  • Indian Outsourcers Try to Blunt U.S. Backlash
  • Infosys Strikes Confident Chord
  • Visa Case Lawyer Reveals Infosys Tactics
  • What the Infosys Whistleblower Said on Visas
  • U.S. Moves from Rhetoric to Action on Visas

The visa issue is potentially becoming a game changer for the Indian IT industry, which takes many workers overseas for projects. But visa policy in client markets like the United States, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Canada has, for the past 12-18 months, been veering towards greater oversight and more stringent rules, the report noted.

Rejection rates for works visas for some of the biggest Indian tech companies have soared to nearly 40%, up from a mere 5% 18 months ago, the report noted. At least one top tier IT company has not received a single work visa in either the short-t [...]

Thanks, Admin,

Popular Posts