Louis Berger case: Kamat’s interim bail extended

Panaji, Aug 7 (IANS) A special anti-corruption court on Friday extended former Goa chief minister Digambar Kamat’s interim bail to August 12, while adjourning the anticipatory bail hearing to the same date.

Special court judge B.P. Deshpande extended the interim bail period after the prosecution sought more time to respond to the notice issued by the court on August 5, seeking justification for Kamat’s arrest over Louis Berger bribery scam.

The Congress leader had secured interim bail on August 5.

Kamat, along with former Goa PWD minister Churchill Alemao and other government officials have been accused of allegedly accepting a $976,630 bribe in 2010 from officials of US-based Louis Berger consultancy firm to secure implementation rights of a multi-billion dollar water and sewerage project in Goa worth Rs.1,031 crore funded by the Japan International Co-Operation Agency (JICA).

Kamat has already been questioned twice by CBI, while Alemao was arrested late on Wednesday.

He is the second Goan politician linked to the $976,630 bribery scam, in which two other people, namely now former director of the JICA-funded project Anand Wachasundar and former India head of Louis Berger Satyakam Mohanty, have also been arrested.

Top officials of Louis Berger have already pleaded guilty in a US court to offering bribes of $3.9 million to secure contracts in 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, the documents revealed that $976,630 was paid in bribes during 2009-2010 to a Goa minister and other officials.

Louis Berger was part of a consortium that eventually won a contract to execute a multi-billion dollar water and sewerage project in Goa worth Rs.1,031 crore funded by the Japan International Co-Operation Agency (JICA), which was cleared in 2010 by a Congress-led coalition government.

Police allege that in 2010, then Goa chief minister Kamat and Alemao, who was a minister in his cabinet, were the politicians who were paid bribe.

Alemao, who was arrested late on Wednesday, has maintained that he is innocent and was being politically framed.

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