Indian Americans involved in Illinois scandal: report

December 13th, 2008 - 2:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaChicago, Dec 13 (IANS) Several eminent Indian Americans are linked to the corruption scandal involving Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s attempt to sell the Senate seat vacated by president-elect Barack Obama, a front page investigative report by the Chicago Tirbune said.Blagojevich was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Tuesday for allegedly negotiating with several politicians to nominate them for the Senate seat for monetary and material favour. He was let off on a $4,500 cash bond but the scandal has hogged headlines in the US.

Obama, who represented Illinois in the US Senate before being elected president, resigned after the elections. Under US laws, the state governor has the authority to nominate his replacement for the rest of the term.

The Chicago Tribune has named several Indian Americans - all based in Chicago - for holding negotiations on behalf of US Representative Jesse Jackson Jr with Blagojevich over the seat Obama vacated.

Jackson has been named as “Senate Candidate 5″ in the FBI charge sheet against the Illinois governor.

The Indian American supporters of Jackson, the newspaper said, promised to hold a fundraiser for the Illinois governor for his re-election bid and raise more than $1 million in lieu of the Senate seat.

The daily identified one such Indian American as Raghuveer Nayak or Raghu.
He owns a series of surgery centres in Chicago.

“Raghu (Nayak) said he needed to raise a million for Rod to make sure Jesse got the seat,” a businessman who attended one of the meetings where requests were made for the fundraiser was quoted as saying by The Chicago Tribune.

“He said, ‘I can raise half of it, $500,000.’,” added the businessman, also an Indian American.

Nayak, who the report said is a major Blagojevich fundraiser, also has ties with the Jackson family.

Nayak and Jesse Jackson Jr’s brother Jonathan have known each other for a long time and even went into business together some years ago.

Among other Indian Americans named in the report are pharmacist Harish Bhatt and brothers Rajinder Bedi and Jatinder Bedi.

Rajinder is managing director for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Office of Trade and Investment, overseeing nine foreign trade offices around the world, from China to Israel. Jatinder is editor of the Chicago-based ethnic Indian newspaper, Indian Reporter.

Quoting two unidentified businessmen who attended the fundraiser meetings, the report said Nayak and Rajinder privately told many of the more than two dozen attendees that the fundraising effort was aimed at supporting Jackson’s bid for the Senate.

One such fundraiser was held a few days before the arrest of the Illinois governor. It was co-sponsored by Nayak and attended by Jonathan Jackson as well as Blagojevich, according to several people who were there.

Iftekhar Shareef, past president of the influential Federation of Indian Associations, who attended the fundraiser, said: “Raghu (Nayak) is always talking about how we need to appoint Jesse to the Senate. They are very close. Raghu is close to all the Jacksons. He even asked me to write a letter to the governor supporting Jesse for the Senate.”

Related Stories

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Politics |