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Louis Berger has admitted to bribing officials in India and 3 other countries to secure contracts

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Washington: Louis Berger International Inc. (LBI), a New Jersey-based construction management company, has admitted that it bribed officials in India and three other countries to secure government construction management contracts.

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But neither the company which last week agreed to pay a $17.1 million criminal penalty to resolve charges of bribing officials in India, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Kuwait, nor the Justice Department has disclosed the names of the bribe takers.

Two of the company’s former executives also pleaded guilty to conspiracy and charges under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) in connection with the scheme.

Louis Berger has entered into a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) and admitted its criminal conduct, including its conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA, according to the Justice Department.

The company has also agreed to implement rigorous internal controls, to continue to cooperate fully with the department and to retain a compliance monitor for at least three years.

Richard Hirsch, 61, of Makaati, Philippines, and James McClung, 59, of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and one substantive count of violating the FCPA.

Hirsch previously served as the Senior Vice President responsible for the company’s operations in Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

McClung previously served as the Senior Vice President responsible for the company’s operations in India and, subsequent to Hirsch, in Vietnam.

The sentencing hearings for Hirsch and McClung are scheduled for Nov 5.

According to the charging documents, from 1998 through 2010, the company and its employees, including Hirsch and McClung, orchestrated $3.9 million in bribe payments to foreign officials in various countries in order to secure government contracts.

To conceal the payments, the co-conspirators made payments under the guise of “commitment fees,” “counterpart per diems,” and other payments to third-party vendors.

In reality, the payments were intended to fund bribes to foreign officials who had awarded contracts to Louis Berger or who supervised the firm’s work on contracts.

A Louis Berger statement said “in total, the company self-identified and self-reported findings of misconduct in Vietnam, Indonesia, India, and Kuwait between 1998 and 2010 totaling $3.9 million in bribes.”

(IANS)

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The United States Of America Drops Out Of Top 20 Corrupt Countries

For the 2018 index, 180 countries were surveyed. Denmark and New Zealand topped the list while Somalia, Syria, and South Sudan were at the bottom.

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USA, Corruption
U.S. President Donald Trump is seen through his transparent teleprompter as he speaks during the Missile Defense Review announcement at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., January 17, 2019. VOA

A global anti-corruption watchdog says the United States has dropped four spots in its list of nations’ anti-corruption efforts and is now no longer listed in the top 20 for the first time.

Acting U.S. Representative at Transparency International, Zoe Reiter, calls a four point drop in the 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) a “red flag.”

She says it comes at a time when the U.S. is experiencing “threats to its system of checks and balances” and an “erosion of ethical norms at the highest levels of power.”

USA. government
Caravans from Central America have inflamed the debate over U.S. immigration policy, with U.S. President Donald Trump using the migrants to try to secure backing for his plan to build a border wall on the frontier with Mexico., VOA

“If this trend continues, it would indicate a serious corruption problem in a country that has taken a lead on the issue globally,” Reiter says.

The United States scored a 71 in the perceptions index after scoring 75 the previous year.

“The expert opinion captured by the CPI supports the deep concern over corruption in government reported by America in our 2017 survey. Both experts and the public believe the situation is getting worse,” Reiter said.

Anti-Corruption
Bulgarian anti-corruption protesters march during a demonstration in downtown Sofia, VOA

Transparency International uses several criteria for measuring how well a country is fighting corruption, including checks and balances on political power, controls on conflicts of interest and private influence on government, and voter suppression.

Also Read: World’s Anti-Corruption Day

For the 2018 index, 180 countries were surveyed. Denmark and New Zealand topped the list while Somalia, Syria, and South Sudan were at the bottom. (VOA)