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ED begins probe into unlawful fincial dealings

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  6 Aug 2015 12:00 AM GMT

LOUIS BERGER BRIBERY SCAM

By Our Staff Reporter

Guwahati, Aug 5: The Enforcement Directorate has launched an investigation into the Louis Berger bribery scam in Assam.

"The investigation is in prelimiry stages. We are probing if there were any violation of the Foreign Exchange Magement Act (FEMA)," said a senior official of the investigating agency.

The agency is, however, yet to register a case. But the agency is looking into an FIR registered at Dispur police station in connection with the scam.

The FEMA prohibits any fincial dealings with foreign tiols without permission of the Reserve Bank of India.

Former Louis Berger vice-president Satyakam Mohanty was recently arrested by Goa crime branch in connection with the pay-off scandal involving the New Jersey-based consultancy firm that is charged with bribing Indian officials to win two major water developmental projects in Goa and Guwahati.

This is the second arrest in the case wherein officials of the US company confessed in a court in that country that they had paid bribes to an Indian minister to win consultancy contract for water augmentation and sewerage pipeline project under Japan Intertiol Cooperation Agency (JICA) in Goa in 2010 (when Congress was in power).

According to sources, Mohanty's interrogation provided major leads to the investigators in the case.

Goa's crime branch has already arrested And Wachasunder, a senior official who headed the controversial JICA water project in Goa.

Top officials of Louis Berger have already pleaded guilty to offering bribes to the tune of 3.9 million dollars to secure contracts in countries like India, Vietm, Indonesia and Kuwait. This included water supply projects in Guwahati and Goa in India.

While the settlement announced by the US Justice Department did not identify the Indian politicians and officials who were offered the bribes, the documents revealed that $976,630 (around Rs 6.3 crore) in bribes was paid during 2009-2010 to a Goa minister and other officials.

Louis Berger was part of a consortium that eventually won a contract to execute a water supply project in Guwahati, funded by the Japan Intertiol Co-Operation Agency (JICA).

The JICA-assisted South Central Guwahati & North Guwahati Water Supply Project is estimated at Rs 1,427 crore. Though the project is targeted to be completed by 2016, officials said only 41 per cent of the work has been completed so far. The project commenced in 2010.

Meanwhile, former Goa chief minister Digambar Kamat, who is accused of accepting bribes from Louis Berger officials to implement a Rs.1,031 crore-worth project, was on Wednesday granted interim bail until August 7.

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