Goa launches investigation by Crime Branch

| | Panaji
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Goa launches investigation by Crime Branch

Tuesday, 21 July 2015 | PNS | Panaji

Congress’ worries deepened on Saturday with the BJP Government in Goa launching a preliminary probe by the State Crime Branch into the $ 976,630 louis Berger international bribery scandal and promising to raise the issue in the forthcoming Monsoon session of Parliament.

Bharatiya Janata Party Goa president Vinay Tendulkar also told The Pioneer that a party delegation would meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh later this week to formally request a CBI probe for the scam, a demand which the Congress said was a ‘farce.’

“I have spoken to the Director General of Police and asked him to direct the Crime Branch to conduct the initial probe on the basis of which we will approach the Central Bureau of Investigation,” Goa Chief Minister laxmikant Parsekar said on Monday.

Director General of Police TN Mohan confirmed the developments said that Crime Branch team had been formed and documents related to the bribe would be obtained soon.

“We have started the process. We are writing to the relevant authorities for accessing the relevant documents related to the case,” Mohan said. 

On a day of hectic developments, a Right To Information activist also filed a complaint with the Central Bureau of Investigation, alleging that Goa ministers were bribed by the consultancy firm in connection with two more tenders.

The activist Kashinath Shetye in his complaint, has accused named officials of “intimidating witnesses in the manner that they have, that too when they are the enforcement wing of the administration by the police officers who are supposed to enforce the law in this true spirit.”

New Jersey-based construction consultancy firm louis Berger’s two top officials have already pleaded guilty to paying bribes to the tune of $3.9 million to secure contracts in Asian countries like India, Vietnam, Indonesia and Kuwait.

The announcement made by the US department of justice however didn’t name the Indian politicians who were bribed to secure contracts, but the project locations were mentioned.

The bribes was paid during 2009-2010 to a Goa Minister and other officials during the tenure of former Goa Chief Minister Digambar Kamat and former Public Works Department Minister Churchill Alemao whose department oversaw the tender process what resulted in a consortium led by louis Berger winning the project conceived by Goa along with the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) worth `824 crore.

Both Kamat and Alemao, have welcomed probes at any level, denied the allegation.

“I am not involved in anyway, neither is any Minister of my Government. All procedures were followed in the case,” Kamat said told reporters after meeting the Chief Minister.

The BJP in the State meanwhile upped gears, taking the attack to the Congress camp.

“Goa has been defamed internationally because of this bribery scam... BJP MPs from Goa will not only raise this issue in parliament, but we will also meet the Prime Minister and Union Home Minister to demand a CBI probe,” State BJP president Vinay Tendulkar said.

Tendulkar also said that the firm should be blacklisted from being a consultant for Goa government projects.

The Congress too dared the BJP to take the case to its logical conclusion, or failing which they should cease to make ‘loose allegations.’

“let the probe happen. We are not scared of anything,” Congress spokesperson Aleixo Reginaldo said today.

Congress spokesperson Sunil Kauthankar said that the BJP was not serious in investigating the case and was only using the opportunity to “extort from the corrupt”.

“You don’t need to go to Delhi. It is a farce. let the government get the documents from the US department of Justice and proceed from there,” Kauthankar said.

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