Former Indian official in UN jailed for graft

April 2nd, 2008 - 9:13 pm ICT by admin  

New York, April 2 (IANS) A former United Nations official from India, convicted of accepting money and two heavily discounted Manhattan apartments as bribes for steering $100 million in contracts to a friend’s companies, has been sentenced to eight years in prison. Sanjaya Bahel, 57, chief procurement officer for the UN from 1999 to 2003, was convicted of bribery, wire fraud and mail fraud last June.

The judge Tuesday noted that Bahel had a “very heavy responsibility” of handling procurements for UN peacekeeping forces.

The criminal probe against Bahel began after the UN turned over an 86-page report on his conduct to federal prosecutors in July 2006.

At trial, Bahel’s one-time co-defendant, Nishan Kohli of Miami, testified against him, saying Bahel gave his family inside information about pending contracts to help them secure about two dozen UN contracts. In exchange for his help, Bahel got about 10 percent of the profits.

Kohli has pleaded guilty to bribery and is awaiting sentencing.

Bahel has been behind bars since the UN fired him a year ago. After serving his sentence in the US, he will return to India.

His wife faces deportation now.

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