MUMBAI: Despite the nearly seven-hour-long search carried out by ED officials and the Goa Police at former Goa Chief Minister Digambar Kamat Margao residence on Thursday to locate a missing file related to the controversial water development project in the coastal state, the raid party drew a blank.
However, there was no official clarification on whether the search party had returned empty handed. An official, though, said the agency has seized some papers and foreign currency during the raid but not the key file.
The raid was conducted as part of the ongoing probe into the allegation by US-based infrastructure giant Louis Berger that it had paid bribes to an Indian Minister to bag the contract for the `1,031 crore water development project in Goa funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JAICA). The ED move came barely 24 hours after a special court in Panaji had granted anticipatory bail to Kamat in the same case.
JAICA official Anand Wachadunder had told the police that he did not possess the crucial file which contained details of the terms of contract for the water project. The police did not find the file at Wachasunder’s house as well as at JAICA office. They suspected that Kamat, who was the CM when the contract was awarded in 2010, had a photo copy of the file.
The ED also conducted searches at five other places, including the house of Kamat’s brother-in-law Pinky Lawande at Miramar, a suburb of Panaji. They also questioned Lawande in this regard. The search was also conducted at the residence of Kamat’s daughter-in-law and a few commercial establishments.
According to a Goa police officer, Kamat had kept mum on an important question during his interrogation by the Crime Branch earlier this last week. The officers had asked him how much cash he had received as bribe and where he had deposited it. He also had declined to answer why he had held back the missing file.
Kamat has claimed that he did not sign the file. The police said that the file could not be cleared without his signature as he was holding the Finance portfolio then.
Apart from Wachasunder the police have so far arrested former PWD Minister Churchill Alemao, former vice-president of Louis Berger Satyakam Mohanty and an alleged hawala conduit Raychand Soni in the case.