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Rajya Sabha MP among 6 charged in US corruption case

world Updated: Apr 02, 2014 23:44 IST
Congress MP

A Congress MP is among six personscharged in the US in an alleged international racketeering conspiracy involving bribes worth $18.5 million to state and central government officials in India to allow the mining of titanium minerals in Andhra Pradesh.

A federal five-count indictment, returned under seal in June 2013 and unsealed today in Chicago, charges Rajya Sabha MP KVP Ramachandra Rao, 65, and five others with one count each of racketeering conspiracy and money laundering and two counts of interstate travel in aid of racketeering.

Five defendants, excluding Rao, were charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

Among those charged also include businessmen from Hungary, India, Sri Lanka and Ukraine.

Rao was an official of the state government of Andhra Pradesh and a close advisor to the now-deceased chief minister of Andhra Pradesh YS Rajasekhara Reddy.

The five-count indictment was returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Chicago on June 20, 2013, acting assistant attorney general David A O'Neil of the department of justice's criminal division said.

Apart from Rao, the others charged are Hungarian businessman Andras Knopp, 75, Suren Gevorgyan, 40, of Ukraine, Gajendra Lal, 50, an Indian national and permanent resident of the US, who formerly resided in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Periyasamy Sunderalingam, 60, of Sri Lanka.

One defendant, Dmitry Firtash 48, a Ukrainian national was arrested on March 12 in Vienna.

Firtash was released from custody on March 21 after posting about $ 174 million in bail.

"Fighting global corruption is part of the fabric of the Department of Justice," O'Neil said.

"The charges against six foreign nationals announced today send the unmistakable message that we will root out and attack foreign bribery and bring to justice those who improperly influence foreign officials, wherever we find them," he said.

Beginning in 2006, the defendants allegedly conspired to pay at least $18.5 million in bribes to secure licenses to mine minerals in Andhra Pradesh.

The mining project was expected to generate more than $500 million annually from the sale of titanium products, including sales to unnamed "Company A", headquartered in Chicago.

The indictment seeks forfeiture from all six defendants of more than $10.59 million.