Local Goa News

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Louis Berger’s ‘bribe payer’ McClung arrested in US, but LB hasn’t informed Goa Police

With McClung in custody, possibility of his statement and interrogation by Goa Police uncertain; LB washes its hands of saying McClung’s bribe paying was ‘personal’; Goa Crime Branch summons to McClung to any of LB’s India offices, not responded to

PANJIM: It’s a little over a month since the former Vice President of Louis Berger, James McClung, was sentenced to a year and a day in a US federal prison for bribing officials in India, including politicians and key officials connected with the JICA funded water and sewerage project in Goa.
But Louis Berger, the corporate which has been named in the chargesheet in the Goa bribery case, has chosen not to inform the Goa government of McClung’s sentencing, knowing fully well that summons were issued to him at three of Louis Berger’s offices, in Gurgaon, Hyderabad and Mumbai.
Summons were also sent to LB International’s Headquarters in New Jersey and the company should have been responsible to intimate and respond to the Goa Crime Branch when McClung appeared for sentencing in July (last month).
Importantly, there is a fresh summons issued in June 2016, a month before his sentencing, wherein McClung needs to appear in Goa to face interrogation and possible arrest by October 2016. But he is already serving his sentence of one year and one day pronounced by the US district court.
McClung allegedly paid bribes to the tune of $9,76,630 to secure the consultancy for the JICA funded Goa project in August 2010. However, Louis Berger, contrary to the position of the investigating agencies, has sought to “separate” itself from McClung totally, stating that it played its part by self reporting to the US legal authorities and has therefore no further part to play. In other words it is akin to “washing its hands off” la affaire McClung. But it can’t be easy wash off. Not by a long shot.
The Goa Crime Branch, and rightly so, is in no mood to let Louis Berger, off the hook so easily. While senior officials of the Crime Branch did not respond to specific queries about the McClung sentencing and the agency’s fresh course of action, it has prominently featured Louis Berger, the company in the charge sheet, in the case involving the payment of bribes to officials and politicians in Goa, making it incumbent upon the corporate to  join the investigations.
Louis Berger, however, continues to look at its role in the issue as limited to reporting the illegal action of McClung but not taking responsibility for it, calling it McClung’s “personal role” and taking the view that his sentencing is a fallout of his personal actions. This stand cannot pass the muster since McClung paid those bribes on behalf of Louis Berger to secure contracts for Louis Berger.
Goa Crime Branch, investigating the case, has made no such conclusion, of treating the corporate as alien to the accused McClung, nor has it given a clean chit to corporate Louis Berger.
Responding to questions from Herald by email, on whether Louis Berger international chose to report McClung’s sentencing by the US court on July 7, Regine de La Cruz, Vice President, Corporate Communications wrote, “This was a criminal sentencing between McClung and the US Department of Justice related to his personal role (sic) in making improper payments. The company has had no communication with the Indian authorities regarding McClung’s sentencing. His sentencing is separate from the company, which resolved this issue last July through its settlement with the US Government.”
Asked specifically, if LB International or LB India had engaged with the Goa Police, post the latter’s summoning of McClung, LB limited its response to its role in self reporting McClung’s conduct to the US Department of Justice. De La Cruz wrote, “The company provided the same information on the Goa project to the Goa Crime Branch that we shared with the US Department of Justice.”
At the same time LB was aware of the Letters Rogatory issued by the Indian Home Ministry to the US Court, in August 2015, seeking a statement but stated that it did not know the status of the request as it separated itself from McClung in 2012.
So far, Goa’s former PWD minister Churchill Alemao, former JICA project director Anand Wachasundar, former Louis Berger vice president Satyakam Mohanty and alleged hawala operator Raychand Soni have been arrested in connection with the case. Mohanty and Soni have been released on bail. Former Chief Minister Digambar Kamat has been granted anticipatory bail, which has been challenged in the Supreme Court, which has not pronounced its order, for almost a year now.

Herald Goa News

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