U.S. Attorney Announces Agreement With The City University Of New York To Remedy The Exclusion Of A Student With Visual Impairments
Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Carlos F. Matus, Director of the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (“DSS”), announced today that BARRAK ABDULMOHSEN ALHUNAIF, a former diplomatic attaché assigned to the Permanent Mission of the State of Kuwait to the United Nations, and his wife KHALEDAH SAAD ALDHUBAIBI were charged in Manhattan federal court with forced labor, visa fraud, fraud in foreign labor contracting, and conspiracy to commit visa fraud and fraud in foreign labor contracting, in connection with their hiring and subsequent abuse of three domestic workers from India and the Philippines. Both ALHUNAIF and ALDHUBAIBI remain at large.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Today’s indictment makes clear that no one is above the law. Barrak Abdulmohsen Alhunaif and his wife Khaledah Saad Aldhubaibi are alleged to have lied to obtain visas to bring three domestic workers to the United States and then exploited and abused those workers upon their arrival. This Office is committed to investigating and prosecuting those individuals who commit this type of fraud and abuse of particularly vulnerable foreign workers – no matter the title of the alleged offender.”
DSS Director Carlos F. Matus said: “As the lead agency in this investigation, the Diplomatic Security Service demonstrated its commitment to maintaining the integrity of U.S. travel documents and the rights of visitors to the United States. Our strong relationship with our law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York continues to be essential in the pursuit of justice.”
According to the allegations in the Indictment filed today in Manhattan federal court:
From in or about 2017, up to and including in or about 2020, ALHUNAIF, a Kuwaiti national and diplomatic attaché assigned to the Permanent Mission of the State of Kuwait to the United Nations, and ALDHUBAIBI, ALHUNAIF’s wife, conspired to fraudulently procure visas for three foreign domestic workers, who were from India and the Philippines, to provide household help to their family in Manhattan. ALHUNAIF and ALDHUBAIBI obtained the visas through the submission of fraudulent employment contracts, which, among other things, vastly overstated the domestic workers’ salaries, understated their hours, and falsely guaranteed other benefits, such as paid holidays and private living accommodations.
Once the domestic workers arrived in the United States, ALHUNAIF and ALDHUBAIBI paid the domestic workers far less than what was specified in their contracts and what was the minimum salary required by law. In order to conceal this scheme, ALHUNAIF provided payments to the domestic workers for the amounts set forth in their employment contracts but required the domestic workers to withdraw a portion of their paycheck in cash and to return the cash to either ALHUNAIF or ALDHUBAIBI. As a result, ALHUNAIF and ALDHUBAIBI paid at least two of the domestic workers as little as $700 per month. ALHUNAIF and ALDHUBAIBI also regularly compelled each of the domestic workers to work far in excess of 40 hours per week and without a regular day off.
Further, ALHUNAIF and ALDHUBAIBI subjected the domestic workers to other abusive conditions, including requiring two of them to surrender their passports upon arrival in the United States, restricting their ability to leave their employment, and controlling the domestic workers’ movements by prohibiting them from leaving their residence without their express permission. ALHUNAIF and ALDHUBAIBI also denied two of the domestic workers timely medical care for medical conditions caused by or contracted during their employment.
In addition, ALDHUBAIBI verbally abused each of the domestic workers and physically abused one of the workers. ALHUNAIF and ALDHUBAIBI also threatened at least one domestic worker on several occasions. These threats included, among other things, that ALHUNAIF and ALDHUBAIBI would falsely report the domestic worker to law enforcement for stealing from them or mistreating their children.
* * *
ALHUNAIF, 36, and ALDHUBAIBI, 34, both of Kuwait City, Kuwait, are charged with conspiracy to commit visa fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison; conspiracy to commit fraud in foreign labor contracting, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison; and forced labor, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
In addition, ALHUNAIF is charged with three counts of visa fraud, which each carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, and three counts of fraud in foreign labor contracting, which each carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by a judge.
Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the Diplomatic Security Service.
The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s Civil Rights Unit in the Criminal Division. Assistant United States Attorneys Jamie Bagliebter and Mitzi S. Steiner are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
 As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment, and the description of the Indictment set forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.