Second Bangladesh official charged in US for mistreating domestic worker
AFP – A 50-year-old economist working for the UN Secretariat on Tuesday became the second official from Bangladesh charged in New York in eight days with allegedly mistreating a domestic worker.
Hamidur Rashid was arrested on Tuesday, and was due to answer fraud and theft charges before a federal magistrate, accused of overworking and underpaying his Bangladeshi maid, and committing visa fraud.
Rashid allegedly took "cruel advantage of his position of power, grossly overworking his domestic worker" and paying her "well below" what he reported to the US government and the UN, said acting US attorney for Manhattan Joon Kim.
He obtained her visa "through lies" and "allegedly set up a sham bank account to spend for himself the wages he purported to pay her," said Kim.
To secure her visa, Rashid allegedly promised to the US State Department that he would pay her $420 a week or $10.50 an hour, and that she would not work longer than eight hours a day, five days a week.
In a contract drawn up with the maid, he promised to pay her $290 a week or $7.25 an hour. But when she worked for him from January to October 2013, and she worked more than 40 hours a week and was paid substantially less, prosecutors said.
Rashid is charged on three counts of fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. The sentences per charge range from 2 to 15 years.
On June 12, Bangladesh’s deputy consul general in New York appeared before a court in Queens, charged with labor trafficking and assault for allegedly forcing a household helper to work 18 hours a day without pay from 2012-16.
Md Shaheldul Islam, 45, faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
In December 2013, India’s deputy consul general Devyani Khobragade was arrested and strip-searched in New York on charges of mistreating her servant in what sparked a bitter row between India and the United States.
US authorities accused her of paying a domestic worker a fraction of the minimum wage and for lying about the employee’s salary in a visa application.
She denied the charge and subsequently returned to India, but was later stripped of her foreign ministry post for making unauthorized statements to the media.