The Goa Crime Branch told the district court on Thursday that former Chief Minister and Congress leader Digambar Kamat demanded bribe from Louis Berger officials for the “party fund”. This was reportedly revealed by an accused who has been arrested — his statement was recorded at the district court on Monday.
“One of the accused, in his statement recorded under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), revealed that Kamat, while demanding the bribe, told him that a part of it would be allotted for the party fund and therefore he should consider increasing the amount,” Public Prosecutor G D Kirtani told The Indian Express.
He said he raised this point while seeking rejection of Kamat’s anticipatory bail plea on Thursday.
Kirtani also claimed pages of a “missing” file were in Kamat’s possession. “He (Kamat) had shared certain documents with the media while defending himself. Some of the pages pertain to the missing file. We brought this to the notice of the court and asked him to reveal how he was in possession of the documents, from where he got these, and for how long the documents were in his possession,” said Kirtani.
In his defence, Kamat claimed he had nothing to do with the case. “Kamat was not the chief minister when the project was conceived between 2004-05 and a consultancy contract for it signed in 2007. There is more to it than meets the eye. He had nothing to do with the entire scope of (project) negotiations,” his counsel, Surendra Desai, told the court.
The defence counsel alleged that the statements against his client were doctored. “They catch hold of an old (Louis Berger) employee and doctor his statements submitted before a magistrate,” he claimed.
District Judge B P Deshpande adjourned the hearing for Friday.
The Louis Berger bribery case came to light in July when the company admitted to violations of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and agreed to pay a penalty of $17.1 million to resolve charges that it bribed foreign officials. Besides India, the company was involved in malpractices in Indonesia, Vietnam and Kuwait, the US Justice Department said.
In India, the company was accused of bribing officials to win two major water projects in Goa and Guwahati. Louis Berger was part of a consultancy consortium, with two Japanese firms and an Indian partner, appointed to manage the $311 million Goa water supply and sewerage project awarded in 2009.
On July 21, the Crime Branch registered an FIR against unknown ministers in the 2010 Goa government and company officials, and commenced its probe. On August 6, former Goa PWD Minister Churchill Alemao was arrested in the case.