Louis Berger case: Goa Crime Branch finally quizzes ex-CM

Panaji, July 29 (IANS) Former Goa chief minister Digambar Kamat was on Wednesday quizzed by state police Crime Branch officials in connection with the Louis Berger bribery case. Former minister Churchill Alemao was also questioned over the same case.

Kamat, who on Tuesday dodged a police summon for questioning by investigators in the case, insisted he was “innocent”.

“I am firm about what I have been saying from day one. I have done nothing wrong. The Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) file did not come to me,” Kamat said while emerging from the Crime Branch office after being questioned for nearly two hours, including for some time in the presence of Anand Wachasunder who was arrested earlier this week.

Wachasunder was a key official in charge of the graft-tainted water and sewerage management project.

Former senior officials of the New Jersey-based consultancy firm have pleaded guilty before a US Court to offering bribes of $3.9 million to secure contracts in countries like India, Vietnam, Indonesia and Kuwait.

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

Louis Berger, in an official statement, maintained that the bribe was given by rogue officials and had no sanction from the company.

Louis Berger was part of a consortium that eventually won a contract to execute a water and sewerage project in Goa, funded by JICA.

Crime Branch officials claim, off the record, that they have already recorded the statements of former Indian officials of the US-based company, who have supervised the delivery of the bribe money in instalments allegedly to Alemao and Kamat.

Earlier in the day, Crime Branch officials quizzed former Public Works Department minister Churchill Alemao for the second time, before questioning Kamat.

Police sources said they confronted Kamat with facts revealed to them during interrogation of Wachasundar over the last two days.

“We already have statements that the bribes were accepted. Now what remains to be established is the documentation and movement of file on the consultancy deal,” an official familiar with the probe said.

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