A Goa trial court on Thursday directed the prosecution to frame charges against two former Chief Ministers, Digambar Kamat and Churchill Alemao in connection with a money laundering case involving a US-based firm Louis Berger filed by the Enforcement Directorate in 2015.
Special judge Sherin Paul in her order has said that charges should be framed against the duo, while also directing Kamat and Alemao to appear before the Court on July 26. Kamat is currently the Leader of Opposition, while Alemao is the sole Nationalist Congress Party MLA.
The development comes at a time when the state is headed for state assembly polls, scheduled for early 2022.
Kamat, who was chief minister of a Congress-led coalition government from 2007-2012 and Alemao, who served as a Public Works Department Minister in Kamat’s cabinet are both accused of allegedly accepting a $976,630 bribe in 2010 from officials of the New Jersey-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 assets belonging to Digambar Kamat and his wife Asha, which were valued at around Rs 1.20 crore and that of Churchill Alemao amounting to Rs 75 lakh in connection with the case.
However, in October last year, in a reprieve to Kamat and Alemao, the Bombay High Court bench in Goa had set aside a 2015 Enforcement Directorate’s asset-seizing order.
Top Goa government officials linked to the JICA project, as well as senior employees of Louis Berger have also been booked in the money laundering case.
Kamat and Alemao have been charged with criminal conspiracy (120-b) 201 (tampering with evidence) of the Indian Penal Code and other sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.