The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is probing the alleged irregularities in the award of the Timing, Scoring & Results (TSR) system contract for the Commonwealth Games, has found that a few Organising Committee (OC) officials had attempted to hand over the deal to the accused Swiss firm through nomination.
As part of the conspiracy, the OC’s Committee of Sports Surfaces and Sports Equipment (CSS&SE) had allegedly declared the Swiss firm, Swiss Timing Limited, as the “only eligible provider”, which also has a “monopoly in multi-sporting events, of TSR”, according to the CBI’s case chargesheet. This was around 14 months ahead
of the OC’s initiation of an allegedly manipulated “open bidding” process for the contract, worth around R157 crore, in October 2009.
The plan, however, fell through when Central government officials, who were in the decision-making loop for the TSR contract, “sensing the malafide intentions of the OC officials” halted it and directed that open bids be invited in a transparent manner, said the chargesheet.
Set up by accused OC official ASV Prasad on May 8, 2008, the CSS&SE’s members were allegedly inducted by the co-accused and former OC secretary general Lalit Bhanot and co-accused and its former chairman Suresh Kalmadi, according to the chargesheet.
“Not even a single member of this committee was from the OC’s Technology Functional Area (FA) or an expert in high technology. The entire exercise was done clandestinely and in abuse of their official positions by the accused persons by keeping the Technology FA in dark,” said the chargesheet.
The CSS&SE’s recommendation to nominate the Swiss firm was allegedly “falsely stated to be a recommendation of the ‘Expert Committee’” at a time it was to be reviewed by another OC committee set up by Bhanot and Kalmadi, the Committee for Centralised Co-ordination (CCC), which had government nominees as members.
In the CCC meetings, Kalmadi allegedly “fraudulently stated that the recommendations of the Expert committee was finalised in consultation with International Federations/ their representatives’.
The CCC’s government nominees nixed the accused person’s conspiracy by pointing out “the lack of clarity” regarding the criteria adopted by the ‘Expert committee’, said the chargesheet.
The chargesheet added, “To defeat the intent of fair and objective method of procurement that was suggested by the government” Bhanot, and accused OC officials VK Verma and Surjit Lal allegedly later “conceived a vague and incorrect criteria” to eliminate other bidders.
The accused OC officials allegedly “fraudulently mentioned in the TSR contract’s Expression of Interest”—part of the preliminary open bidding process—that “only” the Swiss firm “meets” the “criteria” on March 3, 2009.
QBR probe: Patel not cooperating
The CBI probe in the Queen Baton's Relay case has received a setback as a London-based businessman, Ashish Patel, whose firms AM Car and Van Hire, were engaged in transport and display works during the event, is not cooperating with the agency.
Patel was engaged during Queen’s Baton Relay in 2009 to provide services like taxis for the guests and OC members, while AM films was hired to provide display monitors during the event.