CBI be­gins probe into Louis Berger bribery case in As­sam

The Northlines - - NATION -


The CBI has be­gun probe into al­le­ga­tions of bribery by US con­sul­tancy firm Louis Berger for se­cur­ing As­sam govern­ment con­tracts.

The CBI took over the case af­ter the Gauhati High Court had on Septem­ber 2 said As­sam’s crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion depart­ment was go­ing slow on the case and pur­port­edly try­ing to shield the ac­cused.

A CBI team on Thurs­day ques­tioned the three per­sons who had filed a case in the bribery scam — Bhaben Handique, Ab­dul Wahid and Jayanta Go­goi — at the CBI’S of­fice here.

The probe agency did not dis­close what tran­spired. The three pe­ti­tion­ers too chose to speak “when the time comes”.

The case dates back to July 2105 when the US depart­ment of jus­tice un­der For­eign Cor­rupt Prac­tices Act filed a law­suit against the New Jer­sey-based Louis Berger. The case in­volved water man­age­ment projects in As­sam and Goa.

Soon af­ter the US law­suit, Handique filed a po­lice case in Guwa­hati al­leg­ing Louis Berger had paid Rs 6 crore to As­sam of­fi­cials and politi­cians to se­cure a water sup­ply project in As­sam worth Rs 1,452 crore.

The Guwa­hati Metropoli­tan De­vel­op­ment Author­ity (GMDA) had awarded Louis Berger a con­tract in 2010 to man­age three water sup­ply projects. Th­ese projects, funded by Asian De­vel­op­ment Bank and Ja­pan In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion Agency, are yet to be com­pleted.

The case was handed over to CID, but Handique went to the high court seek­ing a CBI probe as he felt the state agency was try­ing to shield in­flu­en­tial peo­ple in­volved. For­mer chief min­is­ter Tarun Go­goi and Hi­manta Biswa Sarma, then a Con­gress leader and min­is­ter for Guwa­hati De­vel­op­ment Depart­ment un­der which GMDA func­tions, blame each other for giv­ing the con­tract to Louis Berger. Sarma switched over to BJP in 2015 to even­tu­ally be­come a min­is­ter in the Bjp-led coali­tion govern­ment han­dling key port­fo­lios such as fi­nance, health and ed­u­ca­tion. A 40-page FIR that the CBI filed in New Delhi on Oc­to­ber 4, how­ever, is against un­named of­fi­cials of GMDA and of Louis Berger.

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