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Travel bills racket: Documents point to possible MP-travel agent nexus


Arunoday Mukharji,CNN-IBN
Sep 03, 2013 at 09:51am IST

New Delhi: There are more revelations in the MPs' travel bill racket. CNN-IBN has accessed more documents that have brought travel agencies under the radar. They could have helped MPs in creating irregularities to claim reimbursements.

CNN-IBN has tracked down the concerned travel agency to East Patel Nagar in Delhi, Balaji Travels, which finds mention in the crucial Rajya Sabha Secretariat letter, which had flagged off certain irregularities. While the owners of the agency refused to come on camera, they denied any wrongdoing. But the contents of this letter have given rise to speculation of a possible MP travel agent nexus which was keeping this racket alive.

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The travel reimbursement racket surrounding Rajya Sabha MP Anil Kumar Sahani and eight others just got murkier. CNN-IBN visited the travel agency, which could be the first stop for investigators as it had reportedly issued seven air tickets in which irregularities were found. The agency showed records denying irregularities.

In a statement, it said, "We were approached by offices of 7 to 8 MPs in December 2012, but we didn't accept their proposal as they said they would pay us only in three months. We have nothing to do with this, they may have selected our travel agency at random"

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Adding a twist, the travel agency said two bookings were made for Rajya Sabha MP Anil Kumar Sahani from Delhi to Patna and back in January and February but seven months on, the payment of nearly Rs 30,000 is still pending.

But the agency's denial not matching the Rajya Sabha Secretariat's questions. The letter states:

- The issuance of tickets by the travel agency in view of the report received from Air India that the ticket numbers were incorrect

- Overcharging on the tickets by the travel agency

- The issuance of boarding passes in view of the fact that the ticket numbers are incorrect

- Air India does not have the passenger manifests of flights/dates in their airports

- The Ministry of Civil Aviation is accordingly requested to look into these issues and inform the Secretariat

The CBI has already received some documents and has started verifying details. The impending probe is likely to open a bigger can of worms.

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