Louis Berger kickbaCk scandal
What was the scam? Who was the minister? How were the bribes paid? All you need to know about the bribery scam
By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, July 23: New Jersey-based construction magement firm Louis Berger has come under a cloud of controversy after being charged with bribing Indian officials to win water developmental projects in Goa and in Guwahati. The bribery included payments to a minister, details of which have not been disclosed by the US Department of Justice. On Friday last, the company agreed to pay $17.1 million crimil fine to resolve charges that it bribed officials in India, Indonesia, Vietm and Kuwait to secure government construction magement contracts.
Two of its former executives - Richard Hirsch (61) of Philippines, and James McClung (59) of the UAE - pleaded guilty to the bribery charges. The sentencing hearings for Hirsch and McClung are scheduled for 5 November. The Sentinel is in possession of an official US court document that points to some key facts which have been twisted by politicians in India.
How was the bribery scheme executed?
According to the official document, the company, through its employees and agents, together with others, used terms like "commitment fee", counterpart per diem", "marketing fee" and "field operation expenses" as code words to conceal the true ture of the bribe payments and utilized cash disbursement forms and invoices which did not truthfully describe the services provided or the purpose of the payment.
What was the quantum of bribes paid?
The company made payments directly and indirectly to foreign officials, including in India, $ 3,934,431. The company paid $ 976,630 for the Goa project alone.
Was the Guwahati episode just a "passing reference"?
No. In the court document, the bribery scam in Goa and Guwahati were equally stressed. "Along with several consortium partners, the company won two water development projects in Goa and Guwahati. The company paid bribes to win both the contracts," the document stated.
How were the bribes paid?
The bribes were disguised as payments to vendors for services that had never actually been rendered.
Bribery trail recorded
The company, through its employees and agents, and its consortium partners kept track of the bribe payments by circulating a spreadsheet amongst themselves showing the proportiote share of each bribe that they had paid to the foreign officials overseeing their work in Goa and Guwahati, the court document stated.
Who was the bribed minister?
A consortium partner has sent an email to accused Louis Berger employee James McClung which had an attachment that included an entry - "Paid by (an employee of the company) to Minister on behalf of agent." There is no clarity whether the minister was from Goa or Guwahati.