Crime Branch to probe Louis Berger bribe case: Goa CM

Panaji, July 20 (IANS) The Crime Branch of the Goa Police would conduct an initial probe into the alleged payment of $976,630 in bribes to a state minister and officials by an international consultancy firm, Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar said on Monday.

“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,” Parsekar told reporters here.

Parsekar said he was “convinced” about the authenticity of the bribery charge because it was made in the United States Justice Department’s documents.

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

While the settlement announced by the Justice Department did not identify the politicians and officials who were offered the bribes, the documents revealed that the amount of $976,630 in bribes was paid during 2009-2010 to a Goa minister and other officials.

The consultancy firm was part of a consortium that eventually won a contract to execute a water and sewerage project in Goa.

On Sunday, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said not one but two ministers received bribes, adding that the graft deal was struck in a bungalow in Goa.

Addressing party workers in Margao, 35 km south of Panaji, Parrikar also put the spotlight on erstwhile chief minister Digambar Kamat, claiming that the deal could not have happened without the knowledge of the finance minister.

In 2010, Kamat also held the finance portfolio, while Churchill Alemao headed the public works department, the state government agency responsible for executing the project.

Both Kamat and Alemao have denied their involvement.

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