Louis Berger case: Goa BJP wants Centre to ask US for names

Panaji, July 23 (IANS) The BJP’s Goa unit will ask the central government to seek names from the US, of the Goa minister and officials who accepted $976,630 in bribe from the New Jersey-based Louis Berger consultancy firm in 2010.

Addressing a press conference here on Thursday, Bharatiya Janata Party vice president Wilfred Mesquita said that without the requisition of names, there was no point in an investigation.

“Of course we will seek names,” Mesquita said, when asked if the state BJP will request the central government to write to the US seeking the names of the minister and officials.

Top officials of Louis Berger have already pleaded guilty to offering bribes of $3.9 million to secure contracts in Asian countries such as India, Vietnam, Indonesia and Kuwait.

While the settlement announced by the US Justice Department did not identify the politicians and officials who were offered bribes, documents revealed that $976,630 was paid in bribes during 2009-2010 to a Goa minister and other officials.

Former chief minister Digambar Kamat and former public works department minister Churchill Alemao could also come within the ambit of the bribery investigation, sources said. Both Kamat and Alemao have denied the allegation.

Louis Berger was part of a consortium that eventually won a contract to execute a multi-billion dollar water and sewerage project in Goa funded by the Japan International Co-Operation Agency (JICA).

The Crime Branch of Goa Police has already started investigation into the bribery allegations, with police not ruling out the involvement of more than one minister.

Mesquita said the names of the minister and the officials were crucial to the probe. “The whole investigation will be of no use, unless we have the names,” he said.

A report published in a national daily quoted a US Justice Department spokesperson as saying that the names would be handed over to Indian authorities, if sought.

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