Indian accused of steering contracts

A UN probe has concluded that an Indian official steered millions of dollars in contracts to a company owned by the Govt of India.

india Updated: Sep 01, 2006 14:39 IST

An internal UN investigation has concluded that a UN official steered millions of dollars in contracts to a company owned by the government of his native India, in exchange for favours that included low-rent apartments.

The investigation claimed that Sanjaya Bahel, himself formally an official in the Indian government when he was working for the UN under contract, used his relationship with a wealthy Indian businessman to steer the deals to the company they represented, Telecommunications Consultants India Ltd.

According to the report disclosed on Thursday, Bahel also ignored evidence that TCIL wrongly withheld money from employees sent to UN peacekeeping missions in places such as Liberia, Congo and Kosovo to do communications work.

While the workers claimed they were only getting a pittance -- sometimes as little as USD 5 for daily expenses -- the money enriched another company associated with the Indian businessman and his son.

Meanwhile, Bahel has vehemently denied the claims and said the UN only notified him of them earlier yesterday.

"All I can say to you is to me the allegations are not correct," Bahel told The Associated Press. "I have good reasoning and valid reasoning to counter those."

Bahel was chief of commodity procurement for the UN from 1998-2003. From 1999 to 2004 TCIL received more than USDD 100 million in UN contracts, the report said.

First Published: Sep 01, 2006 14:39 IST