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HindustanTimes Sat,20 Sep 2014

20 Indian executives face graft charges in Oman

Jayanth Jacob, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, February 22, 2014
First Published: 19:32 IST(22/2/2014) | Last Updated: 19:38 IST(22/2/2014)

Faced with graft charges, around 20 top Indian executives of 12 private firms have landed in a tight spot in Oman, prompting the Indian embassy to take up the matter with the government of the Arab country.
 
As many as 106 Indian nationals are lodged in the jails of Oman. But the high number of executives accused of corruption has given the Indian embassy in Oman the jitters. It has requested the Sultanate of Oman that due process of law be followed in these cases.

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While some of the officials have already been convicted, others are on bail. Around 700, 000 Indians are working in the Arab country.

Among the most high-profile cases of conviction so far features the three-year jail term awarded to Mohammed Ali, managing director of Galfar Engineering.

Besides, Galfar official Abdullmajeed Nushad was awarded a two-year jail term last month. Eight Indian officials of an automobile company were found guilty in December.

Since 2011, Oman has been carrying out an anti-graft drive, which is seen by many as a reaction to the street protests against corruption after the Arab Spring.

Though not proven, there are also allegations of corporate rivalry and Indians being singled out in graft cases.

Many officials are facing criminal charges of complicity in offering bribes in exchange for contracts, mostly related to infrastructure projects for their Omani companies.

Relatives of some Indian executives under the scanner spoke to HT on condition of anonymity, fearing that their comments might have an impact on the case.

"Our cousin has many health issues. And the legal expenses are exorbitant in Oman... one has to pay close to Rs. 5 crore for getting bail," said one of them.
 
"We wish the embassy in Oman takes a more active role and help us get justice," added another.

However, many companies have not officially lodged any complaint with the Indian embassy. Some of them suggested this would not be the ideal way to deal with the issue.

HT did not get any response to email queries sent to Galfar as well as the Oman embassy in New Delhi.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin told HT, "We are aware of these developments. We are dealing with the matter the way we deal with issues that are sub judice."


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