Louis Berger probe: Alemao appears before crime branch

Panaji, July 28 (IANS) Former Public Works Department minister Churchill Alemao on Tuesday appeared before the Goa Police crime branch in connection with the Louis Berger bribery case.

State Director General of Police T.N. Mohan said summons had also been issued to former chief minister Digambar Kamat, who along with Churchill Alemao, is alleged to have accepted $976,630 in bribes along with other officials from New Jersey-based Louis Berger.

The international consultancy firm allegedly gave the bribes to secure implementation rights of a multi-billion dollar water and sewerage management project funded by the Japanese government.

Speaking to reporters at the state secretariat, Mohan said one person had so far been arrested in the case and that investigation was on the right track.

“We are still investigating. One person has been arrested,” Mohan said, referring to the arrest of Anand Wachasundar, who was the director of the project.

Top officials of Louis Berger have already pleaded guilty to a New Jersey District 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 funded by the Japan International Co-Operation Agency (JICA), which was cleared in 2010 by a Congress-led coalition government.

The then chief minister Digambar Kamat and former Public Works Department minister Churchill Alemao are under the scanner in the case though both have denied any links with the consultancy firm.

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