US firm bribed NHAI officials during UPA regime, inquiry on: Gadkari
The National Highways Authority of India has appealed to the US court to provide the names of those who were paid bribes.india Updated: Aug 03, 2017 15:14 IST
The ministry of road transport and highways and Central Vigilance Commission are separately inquiring into alleged kickbacks to the tune of nearly $1.2 million or Rs 7.5 crore paid by an American company to unnamed NHAI officials for awarding contracts during the UPA government’s tenure, Union minister Nitin Gadkari said in Parliament on Thursday.
Gadkari said the matter came to light during proceedings in a court in the United States.
“In the court there, they have said that $1.18 million bribes were paid … I have asked the NHAI to inquire and the CVC constituted a three-member special investigation team suo motu to look into the allegations,” the minister told the Lok Sabha.
The government had awarded 37 contracts to the company and all but one now stands cancelled, he said.
Gadkari quoted a portion of a letter written by the US department of justice in his statement before the House.
“From approximately 2011 until approximately 2015, employees of M/S CDM Smith’s division responsible for India operations and CDM India illegally paid bribes to officials in the National Highways Authority of India, India’s state-owned highway management agency and an ‘instrumentality’ under the FCPA, in order to receive contracts from NHAI,” it said.
“The bribes generally were 2-4 per cent of the contract price and paid through fraudulent subcontractors, who provided no actual services and understood that payments were meant to solely benefit the officials,” the US agency communication of June 21 said.
The National Highways Authority of India has appealed to the US court to provide the names of those who were paid bribes.
Asked for a time frame for completing the inquiry, Gadkari said, “We can only proceed when the US government gives us the information.”
Gadkari said the ministry has taken up the matter with the ministry of external affairs as well as the Indian embassy in the US to coordinate with its department of justice for getting evidence and information.
This is not the first time that a foreign company has been accused of giving kickbacks to Indian ministers and officials.
In July 2015, Louis Berger International, a US-based firm, admitted to bribing Indian officials and ministers to win consultancy for a water augmentation and sewerage project in Goa and using slush money to win projects in Assam.
India also froze all contracts with British engineering giant Rolls-Royce (RR) following a bribery scandal but orders for supply of spare parts for aircraft engines were approved on a case-by-case basis after assessing urgency.
The previous UPA regime had blacklisted six defence companies, including four foreign firms, for 10 years following allegations of corruption.