MUMBAI: With the arrest of alleged hawala operator Raychand Soni on Friday, the Goa Police appear to have cracked the money trail in the Louis Berger bribery case.
According to a police officer, Dubai-based Soni, who was being interrogated for several days, had spilled the beans on how `74 lakh, a portion of the `4 crore bribe, had reached the then state PWD minister Churchill Alemao, who was arrested on Thursday.
“The money was first credited to a Delhi account. It then reached Goa through hawala,” the officer said. Meanwhile, the special court has adjourned the hearing on former Chief Minister Digambar Kamat’s anticipatory bail petition till Wednesday. As reported by Express, the Goa Police had opposed Kamat’s petition arguing that they needed his custody for interrogation in the bribery case.
Leader of Opposition in the Goa Assembly Pratapsinh Rane alleged that the BJP Government was resorting to a vilification campaign against Kamat by selectively leaking information to the media. He also demanded that the investigation into the case should be handed over to the CBI.Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar had indicatad that he was for a CBI probe into the pay-offs case. However, he made a U-turn and announced that the state police were good enough to crack the case.
In a relief to Kamat, who headed the previous Congress ministry when the pay-off for securing consultancy for a major water project allegedly took place, District Judge B P Deshpande extended the interim protection from arrest till August 12 after the Crime Branch sought more time to respond to his anticipatory bail plea.
Former Public Works Minister Churchil Alemao was arrested and remanded in the case on Thursday.
The 61-year-old Congress leader had moved the court for anticipatory bail on August 4, fearing arrest after being questioned twice by the Crime Branch in connection with the case.
Apart from Alemao, former director of JICA-aided project for Goa Anand Wachasunder and Louis Berger’s ex-vice president Berger Satyakam Mohanty have been arrested in connection with the case.
The Congress’s Goa unit accused the Crime Branch of “acting selectively” and demanded that the case be handed over to the CBI and the renegotiation of works under JICA-aided project during the BJP’s rule should also be probed.
“The inquiry should be handed over to the CBI. The entire work right from sanctioning of JICA work to its execution in each of the constituencies should be probed,” Goa Congress spokesman Agnelo Fernandes said. Fernandes, however, said the Congress does not support any of its tainted leaders.
The Congress spokesperson also sought a probe against the ruling BJP in JICA work. “The inquiry should be conducted how the JICA work was renegotiated during BJP regime and also whether there is any bribery involved in execution of the work.”
ED registers Money Laundering Case
The Enforcement Directorate too has filed an FIR under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act against an unknown Goa minister and Louis Berger. The ED case is the next step of the Goa Police’s case against Alemao and three other accused.