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Congressman indicted for taking bribes

world Updated: Jun 05, 2007 12:10 IST
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US Democratic Representative William Jefferson of Louisiana has been indicted for soliciting bribes worldwide, obstructing justice and engaging in racketeering, the Justice Department said.

The charges were announced on Monday, nearly two years after federal agents reported finding $90,000 in a freezer in his Washington home, according to US media reports.

The veteran New Orleans democrat now faces 16 criminal counts, said Alice Fisher, assistant US attorney general in the criminal division.

"This case is about greed, power and arrogance," said Joe Persichini, director of the FBI's Washington field office, which led the investigation.

In addition to the racketeering and solicitation charges, Jefferson has also been charged with money laundering, wire fraud, conspiracy and violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

He thus became the first sitting member of Congress to be charged under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits corporate bribery.

The charges are based on 11 schemes in which the congressman allegedly solicited bribes for himself and his family from government and business officials in the US, Nigeria, Botswana and Equatorial Guinea.

The indictment in federal court in Alexandria lists 16 alleged violations with prison terms totalling as much as 235 years.