Plot to cover up Louis Berger kickback trail!
* Police failed to recover stolen documents after GMDA CEO filed FIR in 2011
* Insiders say locker broken into, files tampered and ‘reconstructed’
By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, July 21: The Louis Berger bribery scam is poised to get murkier.
In a sensatiol twist, the files relating to the New Jersey-based construction magement company's dealings are said to be missing from the office of the Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA).
In fact, several files and documents had gone missing from the GMDA office in 2011 itself. "Miscreants had allegedly stolen the files from the locker in the office chamber of chief executive officer (CEO) of GMDA. Tampering was also reported in a couple of other rooms," sources in the GMDA said. Among the missing files are those dealing with Louis Berger agreements and others.
Following the incident, the then GMDA CEO Pritam Saikia had lodged an FIR at Bhangagarh police station (case number 89/2011).
However, the police failed to recover the files. In 2014, the police submitted a fil report of the case to the court after it could not get any clue or evidence, a police officer said.
However, official sources said that the files that were stolen were later "reconstructed".
The revelations came a day after under-pressure Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi ordered a probe into the scandal. He directed Additiol Chief Secretary Subhash Das to inquire into the alleged scam and file a report "soon." "If there is any prima facie evidence, we may go for a CBI probe," Gogoi said yesterday.
Now, with the files going missing, it is anybody's guess as to whether the investigation by the Additiol Chief Secretary can make any headway.
A few days ago, one of the key officers of the GMDA water supply project Monikut Pathak was also murdered by unknown men at his residence under mysterious circumstances. It is learnt that Pathak was in the know of some vital information relating to the scam.
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.
2009 - GMDA ropes in Louis Berger as a consultancy firm for the (JICA)-assisted South Central Guwahati & North Guwahati Water Supply Project after a global bidding
2010 - Work on the project commences
2011 - Several files, including the Louis Berger agreements, go missing from GMDA, FIR lodged
2014 - Police files fil report in the case, says it did not get any clue, evidence
2014, December - Though the targeted year of completion of the water supply project is 2016, officials said only 41 per cent of the work has been completed. Out of the estimated Rs 1,427 crore, an amount of Rs 298 crore has been released for the project.
2015, July - US department of Justice imposes a crimil pelty of $ 17.1 million after two of Louis Berger former employees pleaded guilty of paying bribes to officials in India and four other countries for winning projects . The guilty duo allegedly paid nearly $1 million in bribes to unmed Indian officials, including a minister