Alleged Commonwealth Games corruption: Kalmadi defends himself in a letter to MPs

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New Delhi:  Less than two months before the Commonwealth Games are to begin in Delhi, important deadlines are being missed and new revelations continue to cast a shadow.

As Games boss Suresh Kalmadi shot off a letter seeking to distance himself from any dealings with the London-based firm AM Films on Monday, NDTV has accessed documents that seem to show that a 100 per cent advance was paid to the company.

NDTV has access to the minutes of a Commonwealth Games Organising Committee (OC) meeting held on 29 October, 2009, which purportedly show details of the deal with the London-based AM Films, now under the UK government's scanner for financial irregularities. According to these documents, Team Kalmadi agreed to pay a 100 per cent advance to AM Films for the Queen's Baton Relay that was held in London last year.

The minutes of the meeting show that suspended OC official Sanjay Mohindroo attended that Organising Committee meeting along with other officials, but former CWG Organising Committee Joint Director General T S Darbari, who was sacked yesterday, did not attend. (Read: Who is T S Darbari?)

Suresh Kalmadi firmly says he was not part of any Games scam. As Opposition MPs cornered him in the Lok Sabha on Monday over reports and allegations of corruption and irregularities in the Commonwealth Games, Kalmadi sat through it all, choosing not to respond. Later, he handed out an explanatory note to the MPs, reiterating what he had told NDTV's Barkha Dutt a week ago. (Watch exclusive interview: Suresh Kalmadi on corruption charges)

He says in the note that there is no link between payments and so-called contracts between AM Cars and Vans and Sanjay Mohindroo. The Organising Committee, he says, is unaware of the existence of such contract and if one does exist, the committee has no copy of it.
Kalmadi says an elaborate Queen's Baton Relay was planned, but to cut costs he scaled it down and decided to engage only local artists rather than fly them from India. He has reiterated that he is open to scrutiny by the CAG or a judicial enquiry.

SURESH KALMADI'S LETTER

Here's a copy of the letter reproduced -

In response to the report headlined - "Kalmadi cleared payments for AM deal which he had never heard" in TOI on August 9, 2010 - I would like to state the following facts -

Organising Committee (OC) of the Commonwealth Games 2010 decided in consultation with Commonwealth Games Federation to launch the Queen's Baton Relay on October 29, 2009. It was approved by the executive board including a budget of Rs. 13.13 crore. OC has incurred an expense of Rs. 5.75 crore only

The QBR is traditionally launched by Queen Elizabeth II from the Buckingham Palace.

We had planned an elaborate function, but with a view to cut costs we scaled down the size of the function and decided to engage only local artists rather than fly them from India.

We floated a global tender for the programme and appointed M/s Jack Morton Worldwide as event managers for the launch.

CWG OC had a series of meetings with London agencies on the arrangements to be made

London police was insisting that video screens be installed at the venue to help crowd control but OC kept resisting that.

After a meeting in London with the metro council on October 23, 2009, Mr Sanjay Mohindroo reported that London police insisted that the video screens be installed or else the launch may not take place.

When I reached London on October 24, he gave me a hand written note, in which he mentioned that video screens were required and a payment of £146868.18 or Rs. 1.2 crore needed to be cleared immediately.  I asked him if it was budgeted and approved for. He said it was cleared and within budget. Then I made a noting on the handwritten note "So late. We have no choice."  It was only an in-principle clearance. I have not signed on the invoice,

Thereafter, Sanjay Mohindroo faxed the same note to Delhi office of the OC for processing. Payment was released after due processing, and by all concerned, including the certificate from a Chartered Accountant, through a bank transfer. This was within clearance from RBI for payments in foreign exchange.

As for there being a link between this payment and so called present contract/contracts between AM Cars and Vans and Sanjay Mohindroo, no official had lodged a copy of the copy of that contract with the OC. We are unaware of the existence of such contract. (Read: Commonwealth Games: Exorbitant taxi fares for CWG function dictated by Kalmadi aide?)

The OC has already appointed a committee headed by Jarnail Singh and others to investigate. Based on an interim report, two officials have been suspended.

I am open to scrutiny by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) or judicial enquiry.

Another Setback for the 2010 Games

The Commonwealth Games 2010 merchandise launch, which was scheduled for Monday has been postponed for the second time.

With just 55 odd days to go before the Games, the delay in merchandise is likely to hit the revenue generation. The Games merchandise was supposed to be available from June onwards. 

And just as a point of comparison, merchandise for the 2012 London Olympics is already on the market, for the Beijing Olympics merchandise was sold from almost a year before the event.

Another deadline that has been missed is that of clean-up of Commonwealth Games related construction and demolition waste from Delhi. The deadline ends today, but tonnes and tonnes of rubble is still strewn around across the city. (Commonwealth Games: Debris clean-up deadline expires today)



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