‘Parrikar may have revealed names in Louis Berger case’

Panaji, July 24 (IANS) BJP legislator Subhash Phaldesai has claimed that Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar might have revealed to investigators the names of two ministers allegedly involved in the $976,630 Louis Berger international bribery scam.

Phaldesai also said that the former Goa chief minister might have also revealed the bungalow in south Goa where the deal was struck.

In a television debate telecast on Friday, the Sanguem legislator said that Anand Wachasundar, a former Public Works Department (PWD) official who has been in-charge of the $300 Louis Berger-linked million worth water and sewerage management project, should have been sacked by the BJP-led coalition government in 2012.

“He (Wachasundar) should have been replaced. He was in charge of the project for six years. Had he been replaced, this (irregularities) would have been revealed earlier,” Phaldessai said.

Asked whether Parrikar had revealed the names of the Louis Berger accused and the location of the house in which the pay-offs to Congress ministers were allegedly made in 2012, as claimed by the defence minister, Phaldessai said: “He must have done it.. And the investigation team will investigate that”.

Last week, Parrikar said that not one but two former ministers may have accepted bribes from the international consultancy firm, adding that he knew the bungalow in south Goa where the deal was struck.

Top officials of Louis Berger have already pleaded guilty to offering bribes of $3.9 million to secure contracts in Asian countries like 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 of the Congress could also come under the investigators’ scanner, sources said. Both Kamat and Alemao have, however, denied the allegations.

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 paid Rs.6.3 crore by the Congress-led coalition government in 2011-12.

The Crime Branch of the Goa Police has already started investigations into the bribery allegations and the Inspector General of Police has not ruled out the involvement of more than one minister in the case.

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