PANAJI: In a reprieve to former Chief Ministers Digambar Kamat and Churchill Alemao, the Bombay High Court's Goa bench on Wednesday set aside a 2015 Enforcement Directorate order on seizure of their assets in a money laundering case. Kamat was Chief Minister from 2007-2012 and Alemao served as a Public Works Department Minister in his then Cabinet.
Both are accused of accepting a $976,630 bribe in 2010 from officials of US-based Louis Berger consultancy firm to secure implementation rights of a multi-billion dollar water and sewerage project in Goa worth Rs 1,031 crore funded by the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA).
In 2015, the Enforcement Directorate had attached the assets belonging to DigambarKamat and his wife Asha, which were valued around Rs 1.20 crore, and that of Churchill AlemaototallingRs 75 lakh.
Justices MS Sonak and MS Jawalkar, while setting aside the ED order, cited lapses on part of the central agency, but also directs Kamat and Alemao "to not sell, transfer, alienate, encumber, liquidate or encash" the assets until the conclusion of the case, which is presently going on at a special court in Mapusa town on North Goa district.
"It is apparent that the director or the authorised officer has the powers to provisionally attach properties involved in money laundering; however, such power is hedged by the crucial circumstance that the director or the authorised officer must have reason to believe that any person is in possession of any proceeds of crime; and such proceeds of crime are likely to be concealed, transferred or dealt with in any manner which may result in frustrating any proceedings," the High Court said.
"It is not sufficient that the director or the authorised officer merely entertains such a reason to believe in his mind, but further, the reasons for such belief are required to be recorded in writing," it further states. (IANS)
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