New Delhi: A widespread racket in fake LTC claims allegedly made by central government and public sector employees for travel on state-run Air India is being probed by CBI after authorities detected few such cases.
Lakhs of rupees are said to have been wrung out of the government through the fraudulent Leave Travel Concession(LTC) claims in which some travel agents were also involved.
The incident came to light after the vigilance department of Air India(AI) was alerted about the arrest of a man in March this year at the Kolkata airport with 600 blank boarding passes of the airline in his possession.
Smelling a rat and an alleged criminal nexus between air travel agents and government employees, Air India got in touch with the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) which has now asked the CBI to look into the matter.
"We have received the reference from CVC yesterday and the examination is in process," a CBI spokesperson said today.
One of the cases to be probed is the LTC facility availed on December 13, 2012 when seven tickets of `Executive Class` were purchased for travel on the Delhi-Kolkata-Port Blair route and back.
The AI in March got a letter from the Rajya Sabha Secretariat asking the airline to conduct an inquiry into this case after it got LTC claims from seven individuals in this regard.
The inquiry, according to sources, found that the serial numbers on the boarding passes did not match the AI inventory and were fake. The cost of each ticket, which was claimed by the seven people, was stated to about Rs 1,35,610.
After this episode, Air India then scanned all LTC claims made by various ministries and departments and stumbled upon several fake claims.
The airline suspects a modus operandi in which the blank boarding passes could have been used by unauthorised agents to generate fake travel records for government employees eligible for LTC facility extended by the central government.
It is suspected that these agents, in connivance with the passengers, would initially book an Air India ticket to a popular holiday destination and then cancel it and get a ticket from another airline to the same destination, the sources said.
Later, the agent would generate the blank boarding pass as a substitute for the LTC scheme for the passenger to claim reimbursement from the government, thereby resulting in a loss to the exchequer, they said.
While perpetuating this fraud, the passenger saves a sizeable amount and the agent gets his commission.