US jury indicts Cong MP for bribery

US jury indicts Cong MP for bribery

A sitting Rajya Sabha member of Congress party has been indicted by a jury in Chicago, United States, for his alleged role in an international conspiracy to bribe state and Central government officials in India to get titanium mining licences in Andhra Pradesh.

K V P Ramachandra Rao, 65, who was a close aide of former chief minister, late Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, has been named along with an Indian-American businessman, an Ukrainian industrialist, Dmitry Firtash, and four others by a grand jury for their suspected roles in a $18.5 million scheme to bribe officials to obtain mining licences, the US Justice Department said on Wednesday.

“Ramachandra Rao abused his position as an official of the state of Andhra Pradesh and close adviser to Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy to (i) solicit bribes for public officials in return for approval of licences for the project; (ii) agreeing to accept bribe money for his own benefit and (iii) warning fellow enterprise members about the threat of a possible law enforcement investigation into the project,” reads the federal indictment dated June 2013, which was unsealed on Wednesday.

Businessman Gajendra Lal, 50, an Indian national and permanent resident of the US, who formerly resided in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is one of the six defendants. Excluding Rao, the five others have also been charged with a conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), among other offences.

The indictment alleges that beginning in 2006, the defendants conspired to pay at least $18.5 million in bribes to secure licences to mine minerals in Andhra Pradesh. They used US financial institutions for international transmission of millions of dollars for the purpose of bribing Indian public officials to obtain necessary licences for the project. 

Ramachandra Rao said on Thursday that he will be able to speak only after any Indian agency tells him about the crime he has committed. “I am not aware of any such deal and I will respond only after I see why the US Justice department has indicted me,” Rao told a news agency.  

Meanwhile, senior police officials said it is up to the country that has charged Rao to seek his extradition as per the Indo-US Extradition treaty-1999.

“As he is a Rajya Sabha member, the permission of the House chairman might also be needed,” said an officer.

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