An Indian-American businessman dealing in American defense equipment sales to India has pleaded guilty to lying to investigators in the process of getting a security clearance.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland. Kohli faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for March 15.
According to authorities, from November 2002 through March 2011, Kohli operated Navtec LLC from his residence and locations in India.
Navtec was registered with the State Department to act as a broker in the sale and transfer of U.S.-manufactured defense electronics and related components. The company represented U.S.-based manufacturers and suppliers of sophisticated defense electronics.
The majority of its customers were Indian government and military and defense-related agencies. Kohli was responsible for the day-to-day decision-making and operations of Navtec.
From September 2003 through April 4, 2011, Kohli also held a full-time position with a defense electronics and weapons manufacturer based in Maryland, for which he was required to obtain and maintain a U.S. government security clearance.
As part of his job, Kohli was involved in developing business opportunities with Indian military and defense-related government entities. Kohli did not reveal to his employer the full scope of his activities with Navtec, nor did he reveal his employment with the Maryland company to all of Navtecís U.S.-based clients, a release from the FBI said.
Kohli admitted that during two separate background investigations by the Office of Personnel Management relating to his security clearance, he made a number of false statements and representations regarding his activities for Navtec and his contacts with foreign nationals.
Specifically, Kohli minimized the nature and scope of his activities with Navtec and under oath denied that he had any established foreign business contacts or associations with Indian government organizations, the release said.
Other false statements included information that his contact with foreign nationals was limited to relatives in India; that his foreign business travel was limited to attending trade and air shows on behalf of the Maryland defense contractor; and that his contact with a foreign government or its representatives was limited to business meetings in the U.S. on behalf of the Maryland defense contractor.
During a follow-up interview with a federal investigator on March 9, 2011, Kohli denied having any other employment or business ventures outside of his employment with the Maryland defense contractor, when in fact, he now admits in his guilty plea, that he traveled to India periodically to meet with Navtecís Indian government clients and conduct Navtec business.
Occasionally, Kohli was accompanied by representatives of the defense electronics manufacturers/suppliers that Navtec represented, as well as his son, who assisted with Navtec business.
The release did not reveal the name of Kohliís son who had an application for employment pending with the FBI. On September 7, 2010, Kohli was interviewed by federal agents in relation to his sonís pending application. During those interviews, Kohli minimized his sonís role with Navtec, his contact with Navtecís U.S. clients and Indian customers, and falsely stated that his wife ran Navtec, authorities said. According to officials, Kohli also lied about the purpose of his Indian travel, stating that his foreign travel was limited to matters involving his employment with the Maryland defense contractor and that he did not meet with Indian government officials.