Indo-Canadian jailed for 3 years for trying to bribe Air India to get software contract

TORONTO: A 67-year-old Indo-Canadian has become the first person in Canada to be sentenced under the country’s new foreign anti-corruption law.

Ottawa-based business consultant Nazir Karigar has been sentenced to three years by an Ottawa court for trying to win a contract from Air India for facial-recognition software technology by bribing Indian officials and the civil aviation minister.

Sentencing him to three years, Ontario Superior Court Justice Charles Hackland said Nazir Karigar conspired with Ottawa security company CryptoMetrics, to win it a multimillion-dollar, facial-recognition software tech contract from Air India in 2007.

As per the plan to win the contract by paying bribes, Karigar was to pay $200,000 to co-chairman of the selection committee for the Air India security project, and $250,000 to the then Indian aviation minister Praful Patel. CryptoMetrics transferred $450,000 into Karigar’s account for giving bribes to Indians.

It is not known whether the bribes were actually paid to the Indian official and the aviation minister, but CryptoMetrics didn’t win the contract.

But Karigar exposed himself after he fell out with CryptoMetrics officials. In 2008, he sent an email to the US Department of Justice, telling them that the chief executive and the chief operating officer of the US arm of CryptoMetrics had hatched a bribery plan to win an Air India contract, and that $250,000 was paid “for the (Indian aviation) minister to bless the system.”

When police investigations revealed his role in the bribery plan, Karigar tried to strike a plea bargain to get immunity but failed.

Coming down heavily on Karigar while sentencing him to three years, the judge said Karigar acted with “a complete sense of entitlement” while trying to win the contract from Air India.

The judge said, “The corruption of foreign public officials, particularly in developing countries, is enormously harmful and is likely to undermine the rule of law.

“The idea that bribery is simply a cost of doing business in many countries, and should be treated as such by Canadian firms competing for business in those countries, must be disavowed.”

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