CBI books top Games brass for Rs 50 cr fraud
The CBI registered a case on Tuesday against two key members of the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee (OC) for inflating the cost of sports equipment acquired for the Games by around Rs 50 crore. Rajesh Ahuja reports. Scam after scamdelhi Updated: Dec 01, 2010 01:47 IST
The CBI registered a case on Tuesday against two key members of the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee (OC) for inflating the cost of sports equipment acquired for the Games by around Rs 50 crore.
The high-profile secretary-general of the OC, Lalit Bhanot, and director-general VK Verma have been charged with irregularities while awarding a contract of Rs 107 crore for supplying the ‘results update system’ — also called a Timing Result and Scoring (TRS) system — for the Games in all stadiums to a Swiss firm called Swiss Tidings. CBI officials said the equipment — together with its installation and maintenance — should have cost less than half that amount. The two men are accused of manipulating the bidding process so that only Swiss Tidings satisfied the conditions. No other bidders qualified.
CBI officials conducted searches not only at the premises of Bhanot and Verma but also at those of two other OC members — RK Sacheti, joint director-general (coordination), and Sangeeta Welingkar, member of the Games Image and Look Group. There were indications that the CBI might shortly knock on OC chairman Suresh Kalmadi’s door too. “If there is enough evidence, we will not hesitate to take action against anybody,” said newly appointed CBI director AP Singh, who took over on Tuesday.
Sources said the initial request for proposal (RPF) issued by the OC for the TRS system on October 1, 2009 was amended three days later to favour the Swiss firm. Even so, a Spanish firm also bid, but it was disqualified.
Bhanot, when contacted, said he had nothing to do with the Swiss Tidings’ bidding process. “How am I involved", he said.
“That’s the job of a different functional area. All decisions involving so much money are always cleared by the Financial Committee and then the Executive Board. These comprise government officials from different ministries.”
Verma, currently in Malyasia, said on telephone: “I heard that my house and office are being searched. Let them (CBI) carry on with the procedure. I am not worried at all.”
(Inputs by Indraneel Das and Anupma Tripathi)