U turns: Cong wants CBI probe; CM says “NO, Goa police best”

PTI, PANAJI | 09 August 2015 13:18 IST

With Goa police arresting former Congress minister Churchill Alemao and gunning for former chief minister Digambar Kamat, the stance in the Louis Berger bribery case are now reversed.

The opposition Congress now demands a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

And chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar rules out the possibility of CBI inquiry.

“I had told crime branch to investigate so that preliminary work would help the CBI to probe. But the way crime branch is investigating, I salute them”, says Parsekar.

 While the news of Goa’s ministers and government officials taking bribe from US-based company to grant them a multi-crore project in Goa broke on 18 July, the crime branch filed FIR and started investigating into it from 21 July.

Within a fortnight, they have already put behind the bars one former minister Alemao, Louis Berger’s former vice president Satyakam Mohanty based in Delhi, Goa’s suspended projector director A M Wachasundar and Dubai-based hawala operator Raichand Soni, who transferred bribe money from US to India.

Former chief minister Digambar Kamat is waiting for the outcome of his anticipatory bail, which will come up for hearing on 12 August.

“This is nothing but a political vendetta on the lines of Gestapo of Adolf Hitler’s fascist Nazi regime. Hand over the case to CBI since Goa police is directed to go behind the opposition by the BJP government”, alleges opposition leader Pratapsing Rane.

The issue came up twice in the ongoing Assembly session.

Once, it was a special discussion on the Louis Berger bribery case where all the ruling coalition partners, including ministers and the chief minister, argued why the case needs to be handed over to the CBI. This was on 27 July.

On 7 August, the issue was raised once again in the Assembly by the Congress. Rane alleged that Goa police is harassing the opposition members by calling them for interrogation at night and spreading false rumours about involvement of some members like independent MLA Vijay Sardesai.

“I am not interfering in the probe. They are doing an excellent job. I don’t think the CBI inquiry is required”, reiterates CM Parsekar.

Following is the chronology of the crime branch actions:

21 July: Crime Branch of Goa police files FIR in Louis Berger bribery case

21 July: A M Wachasundar, Goa’s project director, summoned.

21-26 July: Louis Berger officials summoned & statements recorded

27 July: Wachasundar arrested

28 July: Churchill Alemao summoned for interrogation

29 July: Digambar Kamat interrogated

3 August: Satyakam Mohanty, former VP of Louis Berger (India), arrested

5 August: Digambar Kamat, fearing arrest, moves for anticipatory bail

5 August: Churchill Alemao arrested

7 August: Hawala operator Jaichand Soni arrested

7 August: Police tell court, Digambar is prime conspirator

It is perhaps the first case of bribery at ministerial level, which broke out in USA and travelled to Goa.

Former CM Kamat and former PWD minister Alemao are facing a charge of accepting a bribe in crores from US-based consultant Louis Berger International Inc. to grant them a consultancy project of a project.

The project of water supply and sewerage, worth Rs 1031 crore, is funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Louis Berger is the prime consultant.  

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