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Britain pushes for speedy conclusion of CWG probe

New Delhi: With about Rs 123 crore of dues to British broadcaster SIS Live stuck with Indian government, Britain has pressed for "speedy conclusion" of investigations related to alleged corruption in Commonwealth Games while assuring its full support.

"We fully support your investigations into allegations of corruption around the Commonwealth Games and are happy to assist in any way we can," British High Commissioner to India Richard Stagg said in a letter to Defence Minister A K Antony.

In the communiqué, released by UK-based broadcaster SIS-live, Stagg also sought early resolution of issue involving pending payment to the firm, which was given Rs 246 crore contract to broadcast the mega sporting event held here last year.

"I hope, however, that due process will be observed irrespective of a company`s national origin, and a speedy conclusion to these investigations can be reached. This will allow outstanding payments to the companies to be resolved in line with the terms of their contracts.”

"In particular, you will be aware of payments which continued to be owed to the British company SIS LIVE (SIS), which was contracted by Prasar Bharati to broadcast the Commonwealth Games," he said.

The letter, sent to Antony who is heading a Group of Ministers to examine and report the High Level Shunglu Committee report on Games-related allegations, written on October 4, also carries response of SIS Live as enclosures on the issue.

The firm has termed the Shunglu report as flawed and sought its due payment of about 50 per cent (about Rs 123 crore) of the total contract value from the authorities here.

The High Level Committee has recommended criminal proceedings against suspended Prasar Bharti CEO B S Lalli and former Doordarshan Director General Aruna Sharma, accusing them of "collusion" with the UK-based firm which benefited Rs 135 crore in the broadcast deal.

The charges were, however, denied by the SIS Live.

"The contracts associated with the CWG and the allegations of impropriety have become a political issue involving the Indian Government and the Prime Minister himself. In response to the allegations made in the media and accusations of Government mis-management by the Opposition, the Prime Minister hastily commissioned a high-level report (the Shunglu Report).

"The report (released February 1) has made allegations that are both inaccurate and unsupported by the evidence. Furthermore, because SIS LIVE was not invited to submit evidence or answer questions, the report is `fundamentally flawed`," the broadcaster said.

Asserting that the company appears to be the innocent victim of a mix of circumstances outside its control, SIS Live said "the suggestion of improper collusion between SIS Live and Prasar Bharati and/or Doordarshan is false and defamatory."

"Far from being favoured by the terms and circumstances of this contract, SIS Live was frequently placed in a position where it had to accept circumstances that were extremely unfavourable to its interests and its financial situation, in order to ensure that the contract was delivered to the highest international standards," it added.

The GoM constituted on August 2 this year to look into allegations of corruption in CWG-related works has been asked to submit its report within three months.

PTI

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