July 21st, 2015
It was revealed recently that a US firm called Louis Berger International paid almost a million dollars to bribe Indian officials so that they could win 2 major water development projects in Goa and Guwahati. The New Jersey-based construction firm has also been convicted of bribing officials in Vietnam, Indonesia and Kuwait to secure government construction contracts.
The Indian government had initiated the 5-year contract back in 2010 in Goa to improve sewage and water supply facilities. The firm won the contract by paying $976,630 to Goan officials, including a minister. The contract in Guwahati was secured through slush funds.
According to court documents, the firm used terms like “commitment fee”, “marketing fee” and “field operations expenses” as euphemisms for the illegal transactions. A detailed diary was maintained by the firm concerning the firm’s unlawful ventures in foreign nations. In Goa, a spreadsheet was circulated between the officials and the firm to keep track of payments.
Admitting to the bribery charges, the US firm agreed to a $17.3 million settlement ordered by the US Department of Justice. The 79-year-old CEO of Louis Berger has been put under a 12-month house confinement and charged $4.5 million. As for the identity of the Indian minister and officials involved in the scam, it is still unknown.
The Logical Indian community hopes that the identity of all officials involved in this scam is revealed and that they are punished accordingly. Corporate corruption hinders progress, and this particular case brings to light the unholy nexus between government and business.
Image Courtesy: uswateralliance.org