‘No doubt about corruption in Louis Berger bribery case’

Panaji, July 22 (IANS) There is no doubt that corruption took place in the Louis Berger international bribery case and summoning of the firm’s indicted officials cannot be ruled out, a senior Goa Police officer said on Wednesday.

The comment by Inspector General of Police (IGP) Sunil Garg came a day after the Crime Branch (CB) filed an FIR against “some ministers” in the case.

Garg is supervising the CB probe into the $976,630 bribes paid by the international consultancy firm to a Goa minister and officials.

He said he had no inkling of the case being handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as publicly announced last week by Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar.

“Corruption has been proved by US judicial proceedings, so there is no doubt. That has been established at the international level also, so corruption is there.

“We have to ascertain who are the involved persons in this case,” Garg said, not ruling out the involvement of more than one minister in the case.

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, the documents revealed that $976,630 was paid in bribes during 2009-2010 to a Goa minister and other officials.

Former Goa 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).

Asked whether summons would be issued to Louis Berger officials, Garg said: “Whoever is connected in this case or whose name will come up during investigation will be summoned and interrogated.”

Asked whether the FIR will be handed over to the CBI subsequently, as announced by the chief minister earlier, Garg said: :That I do not know. We are investigating the case with serious efforts.”

Garg also said that the union ministry for external affairs and the Interpol would be approached as and when required in course of the investigation.

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