India lawmaker arrested over mining scandal

AP News
Posted: Sep 05, 2011 7:22 AM
India lawmaker arrested over mining scandal

India's top investigating agency on Monday arrested a state lawmaker and former minister indicted in a multibillion-dollar scam involving the granting of illegal mining contracts.

The Central Bureau of Investigation said G. Janardhan Reddy was arrested at his home early Monday.

Last month an anti-corruption panel recommended that Reddy and several other lawmakers and hundreds of government officials be prosecuted on charges of bribery for handing out mining contracts in the southern Indian state of Karnataka.

Reddy is the director of a mining company in the state's Bellary district.

The CBI said 30 million rupees ($552,170) and more than 66 pounds (30 kilograms) of gold and "several incriminating documents" were found in a search of Reddy's house.

It gave few other details.

Reddy belongs to the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is the main national opposition party and the ruling party in Karnataka state.

The arrest comes as both India's ruling Congress party and the BJP find themselves embroiled in a slew of corruption scandals.

The government faces graft allegations stemming from last year's hosting of the Commonwealth Games and the murky sale of cellphone spectrum.

Apart from the Karnataka mining scandal, three former federal lawmakers from the BJP are facing charges of buying and selling votes in the country's Parliament.

In a separate case, authorities in eastern India confiscated the home of a government official on trial for corruption.

The house was seized Sunday under a 2009 law that allows Bihar state to take over properties of officers being tried for graft. The confiscated property will be turned into a public school.

Before 2009 officials found guilty of corruption faced up to five years in prison.

S.S. Verma is on trial on charges of owning assets exceeding his income as an official in Bihar's irrigation department.

If found innocent the state government will return the property and pay him 5 percent interest.

Corruption is pervasive in India and last month a prominent activist went on a 12-day hunger strike in New Delhi demanding that the government enact tough legislation to control it.

Tens of thousands of middle class Indians, fed up with graft in the political system, thronged to Anna Hazare's protest. It forced Parliament to confront official corruption and consider Hazare's demand that a proposed bill to create an anti-graft watchdog include low-level bureaucrats and state officials in its purview.