Bribery case: Former Goa CM Kamat summoned; Alemao quizzed

Panaji: Taking forward its probe in the pay off case involving US firm Louis Berger, the Goa Police today issued summons to former chief minister Digambar Kamat, who headed the previous Congress ministry, and quizzed the then Public Works minister Churchill Alemao.

Kamat was asked by the Crime Branch to appear before the investigators this evening for questioning in connection with the case which came to light after the US firm’s disclosure in a court there. Besides heading the Congress government, Kamat was also holding the Finance portfolio in 2010 when officials of the US company allegedly doled out bribes to win consultancy for a Japan-funded water augmentation and sewerage project in the state.

Since Kamat is a MLA and the House is in session, the summons were routed through the Speaker of the state assembly. “Summons have been issued to Kamat through Speaker of Goa Legislative Assembly (Rajendra Arlekar) to appear before the Crime Branch at 4 PM as the Assembly is in session,” Superintendent of Police (CB) Kartik Kashyap told PTI.

Earlier in the day, Alemao appeared before the Crime Branch at Ribander near here for questioning in the case after summons were issued to him. Tenders for the project, executed under JICA (Japanese International Cooperation Agency) were issued when PWD was under Alemao.

Officials of the New Jersey-based Louis Berger, in a submission before a US court, had admitted paying bribe to an Indian ‘minister’ to win consultancy for the line laying project in Goa and Guwahati.

The Rs 1031-crore project was approved when the Kamat government was in power, for augmenting the water supply in south Goa and laying sewerage lines in state’s major cities. The Crime Branch has already arrested JICA Goa Project Director A Wachasunder, and has charged him under section 120 (B) of Indian Penal Code (for conspiracy) besides booking him under various sections of Prevention of Corruption Act.

Meanwhile, a day after assuring the House that government will request CBI to probe the bribery case, Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar today said it might rethink on its decision as the Crime branch was doing a “good” job.

“Crime branch was asked to conduct preliminary investigations into the Louis Berger case so that we can hand over the probe to CBI. But we have found that CB officials are doing a tremendously good job. They visited three states and even got statements from officials who were related to the case,” Parsekar told PTI.

“The investigations are heading in the right direction. I have given them (CB) free hand. I am happy with the investigation. If Crime Branch can go to the depth of this case, then we might not even need CBI to probe. It is proved that money has exchanged hands,” the chief minister said.

The CM said all the guilty in this case would be punished. However, he refused to comment on summons to Alemao and Kamat and only offered, “Police are doing a good job. It is not fair to comment anything on the investigations now.”

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