Assam’s Congress era Louis-Berger scam under lens again : CBI to intensify probe

CBI is likely to intensify its investigation in Assam in the high-profile Louis-Berger scam. A team of the agency is likely to visit the state next week and conduct further investigations. Louis-Berger is a US-based construction management firm which had revealed that they had paid bribes to government officials in Goa and Assam to get contracts.

The case goes back to 2015 when top executives of the company pleaded guilty of paying bribes of millions of Dollars worldwide in a federal court. The bribes were paid to win contracts and to avoid prosecution in accounting frauds including overbilling in various counties. The list of corruption included bribes paid to win water projects in Goa and Assam.

According to information released by US department of justice, by A total of $976,630 paid in the two states, which included payments to a minister in Goa government and officials of respective departments in both Goa and Assam in the year 2010. The names of the minister and officials were not revealed by US officials. The bribes were paid to get water projects in both the states. When the contracts were allotted to the company, both states were ruled by Congress governments.

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In Assam, the company worked on a water supply project in Guwahati which is being executed by Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA), which comes under Guwahati Development ministry of Assam government. Although the US court reports say that only some officials received bribes in Assam, it did not stop trading accusation by Congress and BJP. Former CM Traun Gogoi has alleged that BJP leader and minister Himanta Biswa Sarma is involved in the scam, as he was Guwahati Development Minister in the Gogoi government when Sarma was in Congress. On the other hand, Sarma says that he was the minister of the department only for a short period and the department was under the Chief Minister for the rest of the time.

After the revelations in the US, investigations started in the two states to find out who got the alleged bribes. In Assam, the case was being investigated by CID of Assam, but last year Gauhati High Court handed over the probe to CBI, expressing dissatisfaction over how CID was handling the investigation. In October last year, CBI took over the case and conducted preliminary investigations.

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