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FCPA Blog Daily News

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Tuesday
Aug112015

Police: Former top Goa official ‘blackmailed’ Louis Berger

Former Goa chief minister Digambar Kamat (Image courtesy of firstpost.com)Police sources in India said the former chief minister of the India state of Goa allegedly "blackmailed" Louis Berger International by refusing to approve work permits and invoices until the company paid bribes.

The police said the ex official, Digambar Kamat, was "the main conspirator in the [Louis Berger] case," the Hindustan Times said.

They described him as an "habitual offender."

Kamat "held up the approval to the project [and] also did not give his approval to the bills submitted by Louis Berger in order to extract bribes from them," police said.

According to the Hindustan Times, police "have listed eleven reasons detailing why Kamat must be arrested."

Kamat said: "The file never came to me. How could I hold it up or pressurise officials?"

Louis Berger International Inc., a New Jersey-based construction management company, admitted last month that it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

The company agreed to pay a $17.1 million criminal penalty for bribing officials in India, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Kuwait to win construction management contracts.

Two of its former executives -- Richard Hirsch and James McClung -- pleaded guilty to conspiracy and FCPA charges.

The DOJ criminal complaint (pdf) said:

On or about August 17, 2010, a consortium partner sent an e-mail to James McClung, stating, "As discussed I enclose the details as provided by [third-party intermediary]. I have also added the details of amounts paid to [the Company] as of date by [the consortium partner] in the same sheet." The attachment included an entry, "Paid by [an agent of the Company] to Minister on behalf of agent."

On or about August 26, 2010, a consortium partner prepared a payment tracking schedule stating that the Company had paid $976,630 in bribes in connection with the Goa Project to date.

Last week, police in India arrested former Louis Berger vice president Satyakam Mohanty for allegedly paying bribes to win the Goa water development project.

Two former officials who worked for Kamat have also been arrested and gave confessions, the Hindustan Times said.

Special public prosecutor Guruprasad Kirtani said the evidence against Kamat is strong.

"We will definitely appeal for Kamat's custody on the 12th (of August)," Kirtani said.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.