'Hawala' Soni also funded Goa's casinos

PTI, PANAJI | 12 August 2015 13:56 IST

Suspected hawala operator Raychand Soni, one of the accused in the Louis Berger bribery case was also allegedly funding a few casinos in Goa, the Crime Branch told a court here.

Soni, who was arrested by Goa Police last week is being investigated for providing money to be paid as bribes to former Chief Minister Digambar Kamat and then State Public Works department minister Churchill Alemao.

"Casinos are running on his funds. He (Soni) funds many casino gamblers in Goa," special public prosecutor G D Kirtani told Judge B P Deshpande yesterday while opposing his bail plea 

The prosecution also pointed out to his confessional statement recorded before a judicial magistrate under section 164 of CrPC that he paid Rs 1.75 crore to ex-Louis Berger employees in 2009-11 at his shop in Panaji through hawala transactions.

The district court extended Soni's custody by three days yesterday.

Kirtani told the court that Soni had allegedly paid the money (Rs 1.75 crore) in cash to former employees of the US counsultancy firm--Sanjay Jindal and Shiv Ram Prasad. This amount was in turn paid to Kamat and Alemao.

The lawyer said the further interrogation could reveal the source of Soni's money.

"The identity of the source/person who had delivered the cash from outside Goa to the accused has to be revealed, while also the chain of transfer of money. It is a vital link. His involvement in hawala transaction which is illegal and encourages other illegal things into the picture deteriorates a nation in all aspects," Kirtani added.

Senior counsel Nitin Sardesai contested the prosecution?s submission stating that Soni paid the amount to witness Sanjay Jindal on request from his friend and another witness in the case Prasanna Shah.

He also dismissed charges of conspiracy levelled against his client while denying Soni being a hawala operator.

"There is no evidence that I paid the money to the ex-ministers. My friend Shah had called me to pay the amount to Jindal, which I delivered through my employee Mukesh Bharati (also a witness in the case). I withdrew the huge amount from my bank account. I can afford to since I am financially sound with vast real estate business," Sardesai submitted in the court on behalf of Soni.

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