Despite US finding proof of bribery in Indian railways, Modi took no action

New Delhi, October 06 (KMS): More than a week after the US Securities and Exchange Commission accused Oracle Corp. of paying $400,000 in bribes to unidentified officials working for a public sector company owned by the Indian Rail Ministry, neither the Narendra Modi government nor its normally hyper-active investigative agencies are willing to say publicly what they intend to do about the matter, the Wire reported.

The money was paid between 2016 and 2019. Though the SEC, which uncovered the bribery, fined Oracle millions of dollars for their crime, the offence by both the bribe giver and recipient is not compoundable in Indian law. Yet, the railway ministry spokesperson, when asked by The Wire if the CBI is going to be sounded out for a probe, simply said they had no comments to offer.

Senior Rail Bhavan officials also refused to speak about the subject and the Enforcement Directorate chose not to respond to queries.

The apparent unwillingness to investigate a case where bribery has been proved mirrors the reluctance – on display over the past several years – to probe top politicians in Goa and Assam for the role they are alleged to have played in the Louis Berger bribery scandal.

In 2015, the US construction and consultancy firm, Louis Berger International, admitted paying nearly a million dollars as bribes – including an unspecified sum to an unidentified minister – in connection with a public sector water project in Goa in August 2010. Bribes were also paid to people in the Assam government.

Oracle Corporation, the software giant registered in Texas, US, admitted to having created a “slush fund” which was used in 2019 to bribe officials of a “transportation company, a majority of which was owned by the Indian Ministry of Railways”.

Following an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission – the US equivalent of SEBI, India’s stock market watchdog – the company agreed to pay a penalty of $23 million for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in countries such as the UAE, India and Turkey.

According to the SEC, Oracle used its India arm, Oracle India Private Limited registered in New Delhi, to devise a clever method of bribing officials.

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