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Indian American held for bribing US navy officials

February 09, 2011 11:08 IST

Anjan Dutta-Gupta, an eminent Indian American from Georgia, with close connections in the ruling Democratic establishment in Washington, DC, has been arrested by federal authorities on charges of bribing navy officials for allegedly seeking software contracts worth millions.

The kickback scheme involved approximately $10 million of naval funds, US Attorney Peter Neronha said.

The scheme dates back more than 10 years and involved bogus and inflated invoices and work that was paid for but never performed, prosecutors said.

Dutta-Gupta, 58, founder and president of Advanced Solutions for Tomorrow, was arrested on Sunday in Atlanta by the US customs agents and turned over to Federal Bureau of Investigation as he entered the country from a trip to Chile.

Born and brought up in Kolkata, Dutta-Gupta, who arrived in the US in the mid-80s made an initial court appearance in Atlanta on Monday and was released on $ 25,000 unsecured bond.

He was ordered to surrender his passport and asked to appear before a Magistrate Judge in US District in Providence on February 15, 2011.

Along with him, US authorities have also charged one Ralph Mariano, 52, a civilian program manager and senior systems engineer with NAVSEA, on accepting kickbacks from him.

NAVSEA is the largest of the navy's five system commands and accounts for nearly one quarter of the navy's entire budget.

A criminal complaints and supporting affidavits unsealed in US district court in Providence alleges the two participated in a kickback and bribery scheme in which Dutta-Gupta funneled approximately $10 million to Mariano, his relatives, and associates in return for Mariano's role in the funding of Naval contracts to ASFT.

With offices in Middletown, Rhode Island, and Roswell, Georgia, ASFT is a technology services company that provides systems engineering, product assurance, program support, integrated logistics services and Autonomous Underwater Vehicle development to the navy.

The majority of ASFT's employees support Naval Undersea Warfare Centre contracts and are located at its Rhode Island office in Middletown.

According to the affidavit, approximately $13.5 million in funding from the navy was sent by ASFT to a subcontractor, mostly for work that was not performed.

"Unfortunately, as the complaint alleges, a Navy employee and a DoD contractor conspired to corrupt the DoD's procurement system and personally profit from their scheme," said Special Agent-in-Charge Ed Bradley, DCIS, Northeast Field Office.

In one of the uncaptioned and undated pictures on the
webpage of a website containing information on Dutta-Gupta, wwwkavitachhibber.com, he is seen receiving a plaque from Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

He is said to be the major funder of the 2002 Bengali Convention, by donating a hefty sum as the largest annual convention of the Bengalis in the United States was unable to generate funds in the aftermath of the twin-tower attack in September 2001.

He was also involved in a mentoring program at the Jadavpur University in Kolkata. According to CampaignforMoney.com, Dutta-Gupta is a democrat and he made donations to Hillary Clinton for President in 2007.

Several Democratic leaders including Congressman Jim Langevin and the former Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, have visited his lab. A voice mail left at the office of Dutta-Gupta was not immediately returned.

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