MEA questions authenticity of e-mails, OC launches probe
New Delhi: Caught in a web of corruption allegations, the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee`s credibility took a further beating on Tuesday after a revelation that an e-mail made public by Suresh Kalmadi to justify payments to a UK-based company was "doctored", forcing it to launch a probe.
OC chairman Kalmadi met External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and was confronted with the genuine e-mail from the Indian High Commission in UK which did not mention the name of the company, A M Films, which had been given a sum of over Rs three crore for providing services during the Queen`s Baton Relay in London.
The sources said the e-mail, which was examined by the Ministry of External Affairs for its veracity, could have been "doctored".
On another day of allegations and counter-allegations, the corruption that has marred the build-up to the Games found an echo in the Parliament as well with Rajya Sabha witnessing uproarious scenes and being adjourned. Political parties such as BJP and CPI (M) demanded action against those guilty.
A M Films is at the centre of the row. The little-known company was reportedly given over 4.50 lakh pounds without following any proper tendering procedure and paper work. According to Kalmadi, the firm was recommended by the High Commission and he had cited an e-mail by a clerk-level official of the mission in support of his claim.
However, the High Commission has denied recommending any company to the OC and has also maintained that the official, Raju Sebastian, was not authorised to do so.
Under intense pressure from the government, the Organising Committee formed a three-member panel to probe the allegations of irregular financial transactions.
"Organising Committee Commonwealth Games Delhi 2010 Chairman Suresh Kalmadi has set up the panel which includes Jarnail Singh, OC Chief Executive Officer, G C Chaturvedi, Special Director General- Finance, and Gurjyot Kaur, Chief Vigilance Officer," OC Secretary General Lalit Bhanot told reporters here.
"The Committee will look into the issue of money being paid to AM Car and Van Limited and the Ministry of External Affair`s contention about the letters issued by the Indian High Commission in the United Kingdom," he said.
Asked whether Krishna had told Kalmadi that the e-mails were doctored, Bhanot said, "I am not aware what they have discussed."
Bhanot also acknowledged receiving a letter from the Sports Ministry seeking the removal of two OC officials -- T S Darbari and Sanjay Mohindroo, both of whom are under the scanner for alleged corruption.
"It`s true that Secretary Sports has sent a letter to Chairman OC and they have shown concerns about Mr Darbari and Mohindroo," he conceded.
The OC Secretary General also revealed that Mohindroo had quit his post.
"I don`t remember the date but Mohindroo resigned long time back. Darbari is still with us," he said.
Bhanot said the committee will also probe the payouts to Melbourne-based company Sports Marketing and Management, which was hired for bringing in sponsorship for the Games.
"This is for the QBR launch, overlay and the SMAM agreement. Very soon a report will be submitted and action will be taken on the basis of that," he said.
A concerned Sports Minister M S Gill said if fresh cases of corruption related to Games come up even after the end of the October 3-14 mega event, the government will investigate and ensure "prompt and appropriate" action against the guilty.
"If things come out in the future they will be looked into, after all October 16 is not the end of the show. I can assure you that the government is serious in this matter," Gill told reporters outside the Parliament.
"My take is very simple -- the ministry has been very clear in the last two years that any complaint of any kind will be dealt with very promptly and taken up with the appropriate authority," he said.
Replying to a volley of questions on cases of corruption in various Commonwealth Games related projects, Gill said, "What is in the papers is there, perhaps...there is nothing more to say on this."
To a poser on whether the government has recommended action against the alleged corrupt officials, he said the Sports Ministry has taken such cases into consideration.
Amid the political furore, Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar went on an inspection of some of the Games` venues, which are struggling to meet the deadlines of completion.