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Internal probe finds 4 officials guilty in Le Meridien case

Since 2015, there has been a controversy over Le Méridien’s licence fee, with allegations of irregularities against NDMC officials in the recovery of dues from the 5-star property that is located in the city’s Lutyens’ Zone.

delhi Updated: Jul 18, 2017 23:51 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Le Meridien hotel,NDMC,five-star hotels in Delhi
A six-member internal probe committee of the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) has found four civic body officials guilty of alleged irregularities in the recovery of dues that the Le Méridien hotel owed the civic body.(Mohd Zakir/HT Photo)

A six-member internal probe committee of the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) has found four civic body officials guilty of alleged irregularities in the recovery of dues that the Le Méridien hotel owed the civic body.

The probe committee has recommended major penalties against these officials and the report — a copy of which is with the Hindustan Times — has been sent to Union ministry of home affairs, which had ordered the probe in 2015, for consideration.

In March this year, the luxury hotel’s licence was cancelled by the NDMC over non-payment of dues to the tune of Rs 523 crore.

Since 2015, there has been a controversy over Le Méridien’s licence fee, with allegations of irregularities against NDMC officials in the recovery of dues from the 5-star property that is located in the city’s Lutyens’ Zone. It is alleged that the NDMC allowed a settlement of all dues by accepting a one-time payout of over Rs 150 crore, which resulted in a loss of Rs 400 crore to the exchequer.

The four officers mentioned in the report, which is only meant for civil liability under the Civil Services Conduct Rules, are the then director estate, one deputy director estate, a senior accounts officer and a senior assistant.

According to a senior council official, a committee — which included the chief vigilance officer, director vigilance, director personnel, secretary, financial advisor and director estate — conducted the internal probe.

“It found that a fraudulent calculation has taken place by diluting the formula given by the high court in its order dated 18.5.2001. In this case, certain officials have calculated the licence fee by excluding 17 items from the ambit of gross turnover and thereby brought down the revenue to Rs150 crore, instead of Rs 526 crore. These officials have also calculated the future revenue for the remaining 66 years on the same old formula,” the official, who wished not to be named, said.

“However, clause 53 of the licence deed says that it has to be revised every 33 years. This clause was suppressed intentionally and the internal inquiry committee has recommended major penalty against these officials and the report was sent to MHA for consideration,” he said.

First Published: Jul 18, 2017 23:36 IST