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Vigilance report strengthens CB probe into Louis Berger case


The technical report of the vigilance department on the consultancy contract of Goa water supply and sewerage project (funded by Japan International Cooperative Agency or JICA) seems to have strengthened the Crime Branch (CB) police probe into the Louis Berger bribery case.
According to sources, the report prepared by the technical committee of the vigilance department has pointed towards various shortcomings and other alleged wrongdoings pertaining to the consultancy contract.
Based on a request from the Superintendent of Police, Crime Branch, the vigilance director had constituted an expert committee (technical) to scrutinise the files pertaining to the project. The files were scrutinised over a period of two months and the findings have been submitted to the Crime Branch in an over 1000-page report.
The report gains significance as the Crime Branch police will now produce the report before the Supreme Court, challenging the anticipatory bail granted to former chief minister Digambar Kamat. The matter is likely to come up for hearing on December 8 for arguments.
The consultancy contract of Rs 75 crore was awarded to a consortium of four companies of which Louis Berger was the largest partner.
Sources said that the technical committee report has contradicted the claims (of the accused) that the consultancy contract fees were reduced. There are various discrepancies in terms of awarding of consultancy contract as well as alleged financial irregularities which have come to the notice of the technical committee, said sources.
On July 21, the Crime Branch police had registered an FIR in the Louis Berger bribery case. In connection with the case, former PWD minister Churchill Alemao, former head of the Goa water supply and sewerage project Anand Wachasundar, former vice-president of Louis Berger – India operations Satyakam Mohanty and alleged hawala operator Raichand Soni were arrested. All are now out on bail.
On September 28, the Crime Branch had filed the charge sheet against six accused persons and the Louis Berger firm. According to the investigating agency, though Kamat is the main criminal conspirator in the case, he was not named as an accused in the charge sheet but has been mentioned as a suspected accused in the case.

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