US Companies Bribe Indian PSUs: Envoy

In a letter, the Indian Ambassador to the US has come out with striking details about how American firms paid huge kickbacks to Indian public sector units, Indian Railways, Maharashtra State Electricity Corporation and even the Indian Navy.

Meera Shankar, Indian Ambassador in Washington, wrote a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Principal Secretary TKA Nair in May 2009.

In the letter, the envoy has listed out seven cases of how government officials in India have been bribed by US-based companies

According to the Corrupt Practices Act in the US, all American companies are required to furnish details of the illegal payments they make abroad and the list is a big one.

Making disclosure in his letter, Shankar said that Mario Civino of a firm called Control Companies pleaded guilty for illegally paying $1 million the Maharashtra State Electricity Corporation on January 9, 2009. Then on February 14, the Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies (WABTEC) paid off employees of the Indian Railways $137,400.

Shankar informed that nearly two years ago, on October 1, 2007, York International Corporation confirmed middlemen paying Indian Navy officials upto $132,500 for getting contracts. Similarly, an official in the Central Insecticide Board, too, has been named as a recipient to expedite registrations.

All these revelations have come as a severe embarrassment to the UPA government which recently received much criticism on Bofors case.

“The matter will be looked into,” Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said.

External Affairs Minister SM Krishna said, “Our Ambassador in the United States might have sent a report. We will certainly be looking into it.”

The matter has now been referred to the Enforcement directorate to divert the flak.

The UPA Government says that it will act against the officers if there are credible evidence.

But it may find it difficult to defend itself against the political flak from the Opposition.

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