A Canadian businessman “targeted” prominent Indian officials with $450,000 U.S. in bribes in a failed bid-rigging plot to win an airline security contract, an Ottawa judge ruled Thursday, according to the Ottawa Citizen.
Indian-born Nazir Karigar is the first person convicted under Canada’s foreign anticorruption law for his role in a conspiracy to bribe officials – including an Indian cabinet minister – between June 2005 and January 2008.
The conviction can carry a sentence of up to 14 years in prison.
Three prior convictions under the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act, which came into effect in 1999, were made against corporations, not individuals, after guilty pleas.
Karigar worked for the Ottawa security company CryptoMetrics in its bid to sell a facial recognition system to Air India, an airline owned and controlled by the Government of India. CryptoMetrics also operates out of the United States and an office was set up in Mumbai, India, during the bid-rigging conspiracy, court heard.
At the outset of Karigar’s trial in Sept. 2012, the 65-yearold pleaded not guilty to the corruption charge.
But on Thursday, Justice Charles Hackland came to the “inescapable conclusion” that Karigar was “an active and knowledgeable part of a conspiracy to offer bribes.”
He organized a $200,000 US bribe for the co-chair of the selection committee for the Air India security project and a $250,000 US bribe for then-minister of civil aviation Praful Patel.
CryptoMetrics USA had entered into a letter of agreement with Karigar in March 2007 that it would provide $250,000 “to secure the Air Indiacontract.” The money was expected to be returned if the contract was not secured.
In May 2007, Karigar told a Canadian trade commissioner in Mumbai that he had paid a bribe to Patel and that “we do know he received the money,” court heard.
After Karigar had a falling out with his American co-conspirators, CryptoMetrics USA launched a lawsuit in the U.S. to “recover the last bribery advance of $250,000,” Hackland said.
Meanwhile, Karigar emailed the fraud section of the U.S. Department of Justice to report that the chief executive officer and the chief operating officer of CryptoMetrics USA were involved in an Air India bribery scheme.
Under the alias “Buddy,” Karigar wrote in a January 2008 email that $200,000 was paid to ensure only two companies were qualified to tender bids and that $250,000 was paid “for the minister to bless the system.”
The final line of the email read, “What about my immunity?” Karigar admitted to RCMP that he was Buddy.