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Indian jeweller faces bribe charge in US
Agarwal lured diplomat with exotic dancers, lavish dinners and trips to LA
By: The Washington Post
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Aug 26 2006 12:00AM
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Reference: 506  

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INTERNATIONAL Jewellery executive and sight holder Sunil Agarwal, a native of India has been charged with bribery along with a veteran US diplomat Michael John OKeefe. Keefe is in jail for trading work visas for lavish dinners, New York City hotel rooms, jewellery and Las Vegas trips with exotic dancers. Sunil Agrawal has not yet been apprehended and is still at large.

The terrorist attacks of 2001 have led authorities in the US to tighten controls over nonimmigrant visas like those granted to students, tourists and workers. The 24th August indictment, however, describes a scheme in which OKeefe fast-tracked applications for Agrawal’s company, the New York-based STS Jewels. OKeefe personally handled STS applications, going so far as to approve some that had been rejected, even when a subordinate noted that terrorists use jewelry to raise money, the indictment says. OKeefe awarded 21 visas to STS employees, according to the indictment. In exchange, Agrawal allegedly lavished him with gifts.

On Janury 4, 2004, in the weeks leading up to one visa application, Agrawal allegedly wrote OKeefe an e-mail that said, “Your hotel booking is confirmed in Hilton Millennium in Midtown Manhattan. Two rooms are booked in your name. The car service will be there at the airport to take you to the hotel.” The next day, prosecutors said, OKeefe received a $3,000 ring from Agrawal.

In June, after renewing visas for five STS managers, OKeefe and two exotic dancers flew to Las Vegas, prosecutors said. Agrawal is accused of paying more than $5,400 for airfare, hotels, meals and incidentals for the trip.

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