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Ex-UN official from India sentenced

Sanjay Bahel is charged with helping an Indian businessman win contracts worth $50 mn from the United Nations.

india Updated: Feb 02, 2007 18:25 IST

A US court has ordered that Sanjaya Bahel, a former UN official from India charged with bribery and procurement fraud, should be held without bail pending his trial early next month to ensure that he does not flee the country.

Bahel, who was freed on a $900,000 bail since his arrest in November, was sent to jail after US District Judge Denise L Cote determined the amount was insufficient to ensure his presence at his trial.

Bahel was chief of commodity procurement department at the United Nations from 1998 to 2003.

He has been charged with helping Indian businessman Nishan Kohli to win contracts worth more than 50 million dollars from the United Nations for his companies in return for cash payments and lucrative real estate deals.

Kohli, who is also facing the charges and is out on a one million dollar bail, has alleged that he provided cash and a rented luxury apartment near the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan at highly discounted rate to Bahel and then sold it at a price, which prosecutor say, was far below the market price.

He is now said to be cooperating with prosecutors which could the strengthen case against Bahel who has pleaded not guilty.

The revocation of Bahel's bail came following request by prosecutors who questioned his immigration status as the United Nations had dismissed him.

As he was no longer employed by the United Nations and Kohli had pleading guilty to selling him apartments at discounted price, she said that the bail could not be backed by them.

Prosecutors allege that Kohli bribed Bahel to secure contracts for the companies he represented, including Telecommunications Consultants India Ltd., an enterprise owned by the Indian government, and Thunderbird Industries, where Kohli was the managing partner.

A new package for bail offered by Bahel's lawyer Richard B Herman was not acceptable to the judge. He also argued that there was no reason for Bahel to flee as he wanted to fight the charges to save his reputation but that did not convince the court.