The Crime Branch police probing the Louis Berger bribery case on Wednesday raided the flat, office and the godown of Nitin Naik, a businessman from Margao, who is said to be a close aide of former chief minister Digambar Kamat.
The raid lasted for nearly six hours with police claiming to have attached several documents pertaining to bank transactions and property details. “The documents attached are being scrutinised,” a source said.
According to sources, police suspect that Kamat has parked the allegedly illegally-gotten money (alleged bribe from Louis Berger) as investment in Naik’s businesses, which include real estate and cement dealership.
Sources claimed that police had a strong clue pertaining to the investments by Kamat in Naik’s businesses and as such, the raid was conducted. The officials first entered into Naik’s office at 10.30 am and conducted a search there and at the nearby located cement godown, while a strong police force waited in three parked vehicles – a bus, jeep and a van. Later at 1.25 pm, Naik accompanied the officials to his flat on the fifth floor of Supreme Bombi Plaza building, located a few metres away from his office and godown. The search at the flat went on for nearly an hour and a half after which the officials went back to Naik’s office and godown. The search operations ended around 4.15 pm.
Meanwhile, Naik has been asked to appear before the investigating officer on Saturday.
Last month, Kamat’s house was raided but according to sources, the investigating agency did not find any incriminating evidence. However, with Wednesday’s raid at Naik’s flat, office and godown, police claim to have laid their hands on the much-needed evidence against Kamat. Similarly, police had not found anything incriminating when they raided the house and office of Churchill Alemao. However, the required evidence was reportedly found at the tax consultant’s office at Vasco in the last week.
On July 21, the Crime Branch police had registered a First Information Report (FIR) against unidentified Goa minister in connection with the Louis Berger bribery case. The US-based firm, Louis Berger, has also been booked in the case. The FIR was registered under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act and also under criminal conspiracy.
According to reports, Louis Berger was part of a consortium for Goa water supply and sewerage project funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in Goa and had reportedly paid bribe of over $9 lakh.
In connection with the case, the Crime Branch police had arrested four accused persons of which two are out on bail whereas two are still in judicial custody.
Alemao’s bail application has been rejected twice by the special court and later by the High Court. Former head of the Goa water supply and sewerage project (funded by JICA) Anand M Wachasundar’s bail application has also been rejected twice by the special court.
The other two accused, Satyakam Mohanty, the former vice president of Louis Berger, India operations, and the alleged hawala operator Raichand Soni, have been granted conditional bail. One more accused, former chief minister Digambar Kamat was granted anticipatory bail by the special court, which has been challenged by the Crime Branch in the High Court.