Published On: Thu, Oct 29th, 2015

Fake LTC air tickets exposed in sting operation

New Delhi: A recent sting operation has exposed that travel agents provide bogus LTC bills for the costliest air tickets to government officials while offering them much cheaper fares.

The video captured shows a travel agent offering to provide fake costly air tickets that central government employees can later use to claim LTC.

The video captured shows a travel agent offering to provide fake costly air tickets that central government employees can later use to claim LTC.

The government employees, in turn, use these fake bills to get the benefit of Leave Travel Concession (LTC) and thereby rob the government exchequer of crores of rupees.

In the nine-minute video captured by a central government employee, agents have claimed that they get a lions share of the ticket cost as they offer cheaper air fare and undisclosed benefits like hotel stay, food and transport to government officials.

The travel agent has been heard saying in the video that the central government employees are entitled to open air tickets, which are much costlier than the normal tickets.

But instead of booking open tickets, agents will book normal tickets through travel websites and forge the cost. Later, they will give bogus bills for costlier open tickets to the government employees for them to claim the reimbursement.

“The agent said he gets fare of open tickets from government employees for the entire package. For example, normal fare of a Delhi -Port Blair air ticket is Rs 23,000 while open ticket for this route is close to Rs 54,000. The agent will charge a central government employee Rs 54,000, but he will book normal tickets at cheaper rates and give them to the customer. The central government employee later furnishes forged bills of open tickets and in return he enjoys extra benefits like hotel stay, meals and local transport,” the complainant, who didn’t wish to be named, said.

Fake LTCIn the video, the travel agent can be heard saying: “Many people have been benefited because of us, but no one gets caught by the vigilance. If something happens, everyone will be caught…”

The agent also revealed that only the fare for normal tickets will go to Air India. And if the authorities concerned check with the airlines, he said, the actual cost will be revealed and everybody will get caught.

“If a person is sent for verification, Air India will disclose the actual cost. However, no verification happens,” the agent said, adding: “All the policies are made by government employees. Even the people in audit and vigilance departments are government employees, who know about these loopholes. So this policy will not be changed as it benefits them.”

Upon the whistleblower’s complaint, the Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) of the Delhi government has appointed an investigating officer to probe the issue. The ACB already started the investigation.

The complainant has also submitted the names of some central government employees who had allegedly booked their tickets through this travel agent to the ACB for further investigation. He has also approached the CBI to investigate the case.

The complainant has also recorded his conversation with the travel agent and submitted the footage to ACB for further action.

“We are verifying the content of the video and trying to check the magnitude of the issue. So far, no FIR has been registered,” a senior ACB official said.

The complainant saw a pamphlet of the travel agent at his office. This prompted him to reach out to the agent. As the agent started describing his modus operandi, the government official sensed his mischief and recorded the conversation.

The sting only reveals the tip of an iceberg. A much bigger Leave Travel Concession (LTC) scam was exposed in March 2013 after a man was arrested at the Kolkata airport with 600 blank boarding passes of Air India.

Later, a probe was launched by the CBI into the alleged fraud.

Not only government employees, but several members of Parliament (MPs) were also suspected of favouring travel agents in the case.

Inputs with Mail Today

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