Chennai restaurateur in judicial custody for US visa fraud

November 9th, 2008 - 11:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, Nov 9 (IANS) R. Siva Kumar, 41, part owner of Saravana Bhavan, a noted chain of south Indian restaurants in India and abroad, and another employee were sent to 14 days’ judicial custody by a local court Sunday evening on charges of forging US visas, legal sources said.”Magistrate Rajeshwari remanded Kumar and his employee Ramu in judicial custody after the deportation of the latte, from the US upon discovery of a forged visa,” prosecution sources said.

“Since applications for the defendants were rejected, the sessions’ court will be approached seeking their release. Our contention is that the consulate’s complaints that led to the arrests are based on wrong assumptions,” M. Kannan, counsel for the defence, told reporters.

According to Archana Ramasundaram, additional director general of police, a senior official of the US Consulate here sent a communication to the state government alleging repeated wrongdoing by the restaurateur, which was in turn forwarded to the Criminal Investigation Department.

The suspects were arrested Saturday. The police are on the lookout for three others involved in the case.

“We are aware that some employees of the hotel chain sent to the US earlier as part of a vacation failed to return. Investigations are under way to probe other alleged crimes of the suspects,” Ramasundaram said.

The consulate’s vigilance against smuggling of human cargo had resulted in two actresses Flora Saini and Sri Latha being arrested on similar charges March 11 this year.

Kumar’s father Rajagopal is out on bail in a case involving an employee’s murder.

Complainant Jeevajothi had accused Rajagopal of murdering her husband Prince Vasanthakumar in 2001 after allegedly failing to seduce her. After being convicted for 10 years, the restaurateur is out on bail since 2004 upon appeal to the Supreme Court.

The restaurant chain has 47 outlets in India and seven abroad, including one each in Canada and the US.

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