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Louis Berger bribery Case: Money paid through hawala operator, Alemao got Rs 75 lakh, claims Crime Branch

The Crime Branch claimed Kamat also took a bribe of Rs 50 lakh-Rs 60 lakh each on two different occasions in 2010-11.

Written by Rashmi Rajput | Panaji |
Updated: August 7, 2015 1:16:04 am
Louis Berger bribery Case, Louis Berger case, Churchill Alemao, Churchill Alemao arrested, Alemao arrested, Louis Berger, Louis Berger bribery scandal, digambar kamat bribery, goa bribery scandal, digambar kamat, Indian express, india news, nation news Goa Crime Branch officials arrested ex PWD Minister of Goa Churchill Alemao in the Louis Berger bribery case for the JICA project in Panaji on Thursday. . (Source: PTI photo)

A day after the arrest of former Goa PWD Minister Churchill Alemao for his alleged involvement in the Louis Berger bribery case, the Goa Crime Branch Thursday claimed to have unearthed the money trail. Besides Alemao, former Chief Minister Digambar Kamat is also under the scanner. Kamat has received temporary protection from arrest until Friday.

Sources said the bribe money was transferred from the company’s New Jersey bank account to its Delhi account, and then paid to the accused through a Goa-based hawala operator. Investigators have tracked down the hawala operator, who is expected to be a key witness in the case against the two accused.

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“The hawala operator has told us that the money was meant for the two ministers and was paid to them through two employees of the company on four different occasions. In all, about Rs 1.85 crore was paid to the two ministers by the hawala operator,” an officer told The Indian Express. The company’s Gurgaon office was raided by the Goa Crime Branch team Thursday.

The case came to light after the company faced bribery charges in the US. An 11-page chargesheet submitted by the federal prosecutor in the US said “a consortium partner prepared a payment tracking schedule stating that the company paid $976,630 in bribes in connection with the Goa project to date”.

On July 21, the Crime Branch registered an FIR against unknown ministers in the 2010 Goa government and company officials and commenced its probe.

Alemao is the third arrest in the case. According to sources, in 2009, four bidders, including Louis Berger, were called for the water supply and sanitation consultancy project. The company allegedly paid the bribe to get its file moving.

Seeking Alemao’s remand for 12 days, the Crime Branch told a local court Thursday that the minister took a bribe of about Rs 75 lakh from Louis Berger. It claimed Kamat also took a bribe of Rs 50 lakh-Rs 60 lakh each on two different occasions in 2010-11.

Public Prosecutor G D Kirtani told the court that there was a strong case against Alemao under the Prevention of Corruption Act. “We have recorded the statements of three witnesses who have confessed that bribe was paid to Alemao to bag the contract,” he said.

Kirtani said the file pertaining to the contract was missing and the police required Alemao’s custody to track it.

“Agreement for augmentation of water supply, sewerage and sanitation project for Goa state under the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) was signed on 7th September 2007. A report was submitted to government on 10th October 2007. The file reached the PWD Minister on 1st November 2007. However, the minister kept the file pending without any justifiable reasons. The then chief secretary, J P Singh, sent reminders to the then CM Kamat to look into the matter,” said the Crime Branch in the remand plea.

“One ex-employee of the company… said he witnessed four transactions wherein Rs 50 lakh-60 lakh on one occasion and Rs 15 lakh on another occasion was delivered to Alemao,” it added. The police said two other witnesses corroborated this statement.

“The confessional statement of the director of one of the consortia was recorded wherein he stated that he had paid about Rs 50 lakh-60 lakh to the then PWD minister in 2009-10 at his Varca residence,” it said.

Alemao, however, maintained that the allegations were politically motivated. Speaking to the press just before he was produced in court, he said, “I have never taken any bribe. The police has framed me and the allegations are politically motivated.”

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