CHENNAI: The Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) has launched a probe into the Cognizant bribery case, in which it was alleged that CMDA officials demanded a bribe to grant a planning permit to build the Cognizant KITS Campus (CKC) in Shollinganallur.
The file — which had been pending since the US Department of Justice announced criminal charges in 2019 against two Cognizant Technology Solutions (CTS) executives over corruption pertaining to bribing TN government officials — is now under the DVAC’s scrutiny, sources told TNIE.
It is learnt that the DVAC has sought details of the officials who dealt with the file in 2013 and 2014. An application for planning permission to build the Cognizant KITS Campus was received in February 2013, and the site was inspected in May 2013, after which it was placed before the multi-storeyed building panel the same month, sources said. The government approved the file in 2014.
Among the officials who dealt with the file were two member secretaries, two chief planners, two deputy planners, two assistant planners, and two planning assistants. All of them are reportedly under the scanner of DVAC officials.
The US Department of Justice probe revealed that Cognizant, through its employees, authorized its agents to pay $2 million in bribes to CMDA officials in exchange for planning permits to build the office in Shollinganallur, as well as other improper payments in connection with other projects in India. The findings exposed Cognizant to civil and criminal liability, with the firm paying $25 million in penalties and incurring $79 million more in costs related to its internal investigation.
While the US Department of Justice was conducting its probe, neither the Central nor State governments launched an investigation into the matter. It has been learnt that the file pertaining to the issue was awaiting clearance from the Housing department to launch a probe since 2019, when the scam was brought to light.
The DMK, which was then the opposition party, had sought a CBI probe to ascertain the role of the AIADMK ministers and officials who allegedly took bribes to sanction the building permit, electricity and environment clearance to the Chennai facilities of the US-based IT company in 2014. It had then argued that the DVAC cannot investigate these offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act as the transactions involved money from abroad and offences were also committed abroad. It is learnt that a few officials who were handling the planning permits retired, while some still hold the same posts and handle applications for multi-storied building (MSBs).
Found guilty by US Department of Justice
The US Department of Justice in 2019 announced criminal charges against two CTS executives over corruption pertaining to bribing TN government officials. The company was exposed to civil and criminal liability, and had to pay $25 million in penalties and incur $79 million more in costs related to its internal investigation