Goa chief minister attacks bureaucrat over casino scam

March 5th, 2009 - 3:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyPanaji, March 5 (IANS) Goa Chief Minister Digambar Kamat, facing the heat of the opposition’s accusations that his office pressurised Customs and Central Excise Commissioner (GCCEC) Chandrahas Mathur to secure the early release of a casino vessel that was being probed for duty evasion, has launched a personal attack on Mathur.
“Mathur’s father was a civil services officer and even his brothers are bureaucrats. It is surprising that an officer who hails from such a family made such careless remarks,” Kamat told reporters here Wednesday night.

In an inter-departmental note issued to a subordinate, Mathur had said he had received telephone calls from the chief minister’s office and the chief secretary, requesting early release of MV Casino Royale, which was being probed by the customs department.

On Feb 25, opposition leader Manohar Parrikar circulated the note to the media and the next day Mathur told reporters that he had indeed received the telephone calls.

Denying the accusation, Kamat had said last week that he will lodge a formal complaint against Mathur with union minister Pranab Mukherjee.

On Wednesday, he summoned the high ranking bureaucrat to his official residence here and reportedly gave him a dressing down.

Alleging that Kamat was circulating false stories about Mathur, Parrikar said: “The chief minister cannot respond to direct charges on the casino issue. He has to resort to such desperate tactics to cover up the matter.”

“The chief minister’s office and the chief secretary received kickbacks for releasing the vessel. The very fact that the chief minister threatened to complain to the (acting) finance minister against the officer shows that Digambar Kamat has something to hide,” Parrikar told IANS.

Parrikar, a senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, has also asked for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the involvement of the chief minister’s office and former chief secretary J.P. Singh in the offshore casino clearance scam.

Meanwhile, Mathur has launched a vigilance enquiry into the leak of the sensitive inter-departmental note.

Customs officials said that the duty evasion probe against the MV Casino Royale was still on and the report will be finalised shortly.

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