Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday promised strict action against anyone found guilty of having taken $1.18 million (about Rs 6.7 crore) bribe for highway construction supervision contract to Boston-based firm CDM Smith Inc. Road transport and highways ministry governs the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) whose unidentified officials are said to have been paid bribe by the US firm between 2011 and 2015 to secure highway construction supervision and design contracts and a water project contract in Goa. “Strict action will be taken against those found guilty,” Road Transport, Shipping and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari told reporters when asked about CDM Smith’s admission to the US justice department of bribe being made to NHAI officials.
Gadkari said the alleged bribes were paid when the previous UPA government was in power and he ordered a probe immediately after the allegations came to light. CDM Smith has agreed to pay $40,371,38 (about Rs 25 crore) in four instalments to the US Treasury, which it earned as profit from “illegally obtained” works, the US Justice Department said.
The bribes were 2-4 per cent of the contract price paid through fraudulent subcontractors, who provided no actual services and payments to them were meant to solely benefit the officials, it said. NHAI is probing the alleged payments. “We have zero tolerance for corruption…,” he said, adding projects worth Rs 6 lakh crore have been awarded by his ministry in last three years and no contractor had to visit his office.
“We are committed to corruption free, transparent, time bound and result oriented (administration),” he added. Gadkari said efforts by his ministry to clear long pending projects has helped in containing NPAs in banking sector, which otherwise would be soared by additional Rs 3 lakh crore.
Between 2011 and 2015, employees of CDM Smith’s division responsible for India operations and CDM India illegally paid bribes to NHAI officials in order to receive contracts from them, the Justice Department said in the letter to CDM Smith.