Caught in a web of corruption scandals and under intense pressure from the government, the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee was on Tuesday forced to form a three-member panel to probe allegations of irregular financial transactions with a little-known U.K.-based company.
The decision to form the panel came after Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi met External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna amid speculation that the letters recommending the U.K.-based company — AM Cars and Vans — from the Indian High Commission could have been doctored.
Mr. Kalmadi had presented e-mails from the High Commission’s protocol division to insist that the company was recommended to the OC ahead of Queen’s Baton relay in London.
But the Ministry of External Affairs has apparently questioned the authenticity of these mails.
“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.
Mr. Kalmadi has his back against the wall with allegations of wide-scale corruption and shoddy construction work at the Games’ venues also being highlighted by the Central Vigilance Commission.
Mr. Bhanot said the media reports about corruption have been taken note of by the OC and it has therefore formed a panel to investigate all the allegations.
The U.K.-based AM Films was allegedly paid lakhs of pounds for its “services” during the baton relay but Mr. Kalmadi though admitting that there was no contract with the company has denied any irregular financial transactions.
Mr. Bhanot confirmed that Mr. Kalmadi met Mr. Krishna on Tuesday.
“Mr. Kalmadi met him. He (Kalmadi) sought time yesterday, so he went to see him and he discussed the issue,” he said.
Asked whether Mr. Krishna had told Mr. Kalmadi that the e-mails were doctored, Mr. Bhanot said, “I am not aware what they have discussed.”
Mr. 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 Mr. Mohindroo,” he conceded.
The OC Secretary General also revealed that Mr. Mahindroo had quit his post.
“I don’t remember the date but Mr. Mahindroo resigned long time back. Mr. Darbari is still with us,” he said.
Mr. 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.