The government on Tuesday said it was inquiring into a complaint lodged by the Indian ambassador to the US, Meera Shankar, highlighting instances of millions of dollars paid as bribes to government officials.
”The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has been ordered to look into the matter and it has also been asked to coordinate with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI),” said a senior official in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).
“Since the complaint pertains to five government departments, it will take some time. But we were on the job as soon as the government took office.”
In her letter dated May 12 and addressed to TKA Nair, the principal secretary to the prime minister, the ambassador mentions bribe amounts paid by US companies to officials in the Indian Navy, Maharashtra State Electricity Board, Indian Railways, Indian Central Insecticides Board and other unnamed senior officials to secure government contracts.
In one instance, the ambassador cites a bribe of $132,500 given to Indian Navy officials by an agent of York International Corporation, a global provider of heating, air conditioning and refrigeration products.
According to the letter, the money was transferred over a period of six years (2000-2006) for placing 215 orders.
Some of the US companies listed by the envoy that paid the bribes had already been fined for "inappropriate payments". The companies mentioned are Mario Covino of Control Companies, Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies Corporation and Dow Chemicals.
On Tuesday, the Bharatiya janata Party (BJP) had released Shankar's letter and questioned the government's silence on the matter saying it “amounts to shielding the corrupt”.
“One of the reported beneficiaries is the Maharashtra State Electricity Board. There are over 1,000 employees working in it and obviously it is going to take time to zero in on the culprits, if any,” said the PMO official.
“But what is important here to note is that a majority of the pay-offs happened when the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was in power. May be they too need to be asked,” said the official.