Ailing Air India hit by another huge fraud, writes to CBI for probe

NEW DELHI: Ailing Air India, which was recently hit by LTC scam, has stumbled upon another case of fraud involving crores of rupees in a scheme meant for family members of the employees of the state-run airline.
The case has been referred to CBI after a discreet probe launched by the vigilance department of the public carrier unearthed a scam in its family fare scheme (FFS) in which the cash-strapped airline was defrauded, sources said on Friday.
The help of CBI for further probe was sought by the vigilance department since the case had all India ramifications, the sources added.
Under the FFS, concession is given to employees of the airline in which they can take their family to a domestic destination once a year at subsidized cost.
Chief vigilance officer (CVO) of Air India BK Maurya confirmed to PTI that one suspect travel agency had been identified during their initial probe who alone was allegedly responsible for an estimated loss of over Rs 6 crore to the airline due to the alleged fraud in the FSS.
“We have referred the matter to CBI. It is suspected that many more travel agencies could be involved in this case causing direct loss of crores of rupees to AI,” he said.
The AI spokesman did not immediately respond to phone calls and messages sent to his mobile.
AI has asked the CBI to take up a probe as “the case has all India ramifications with possible loss caused to the government and AI with possible involvement of other governmental and non-governmental agencies.”
A CBI official said that according to an internal probe of the Air India’s Vigilance team, which had looked into the records from 2007, had found that in one particular sector alone the alleged fraud under the FFS involved 5,916 tickets.
The probe report said the travel operator “indulged in fraudulently altering the fare on flown coupons to higher amount than the fare shown on the audit coupons and thus presumably keeping the excess amount which is difference of fare as per flight coupons and the audit coupons.”
The vigilance probe also found that a mandatory rule of mentioning that “all family members travel together” was not found printed in a number of tickets issued under FSS which has to be mandatorily stamped so that the scheme is not misused.
Sources said the alleged fraudsters, which AI suspects could also involve its staff, separated the passenger and AI redemption coupons by writing two different fares aimed at claiming more money from the airline.

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