Monday, August 01, 2011

Who are “hundreds of Indian government officials” who took bribe from Diageo?

US market regulator Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) has recently slapped penalties of over USD 16 million on the world’s largest drinks company Diageo Plc for bribing officials in India, Thailand and South Korea to increase sales of its brands like Johnnie Walker. It said the company made illicit payments to “hundreds of Indian government officials”.
“In India, from 2003 through mid-2009 Diageo made over USD 1.7 million in illicit payments to hundreds of Indian government officials responsible for purchasing or authorising the sale of its beverages,” the US regulator said. The graft amount is about Rs 7.5 crore in rupee terms.
In an earlier occasion, an US department fined one of its companies for bribing Indian Railway officers. In February 14, 2008, US Department of Justice said how New York Stock Exchange-listed Wabtec acknowledged responsibility for the actions of its Kolkata-based subsidiary Pioneer Friction Limited (Pioneer) and its employees and agents “who made various payments to officials of the Indian Railway Board (IRB), a government agency which is part of India’s Ministry of Railroads”. Indian ambassador to US Meera Shankar later wrote an official letter to principal secretary to PM TKA Nair flagging this issue, and Indian government’s inaction over the matter.

Global Window
In China, a rail accident means punishment for officers. In yet another instance, China has recently sacked three senior railway officials after two high-speed trains collided killing 35 people which raised many questions on safety of the country’s rail network. This is China’s worst rail disaster in the last three years.
But the authorities moved very quickly by sacking the head of the Shanghai railway bureau, his deputy and the bureau's Communist Party chief, even as the public anger intensified. And that’s not the end of the story. All these three officers will “be subject to investigation,” a statement said.
But the officials in China have claimed that its high-speed rail technology is up to date and up to standard. After the incident, there were fears in Indian Rail Bhawan too as it has been toying with the idea of introducing bullet trains in India too.

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