New Delhi: Suresh Kalmadi, the chairman of the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee, has dragged the Indian High Commission in London into the Commonwealth Games corruption controversy by saying a verbal agreement involving payments of two lakh pounds to AM Films, a little known company in London, was decided after the High commission recommended the firm.
The UK government is probing irregularities in this business deal and has raised questions about why there was no written contract.
Speaking exclusively to NDTV's Barkha Dutt, Kalmadi said, "It was the Indian High Commission's letter that recommended Ashish Patel's firm to us and the total money paid to the firm is two lakh pounds." (Watch the interview)
The Indian High Commission has denied Kalmadi's statement saying they did not recommend AM films. (Watch)
"This company AM films limited, was not on the panel of companies that the High Commission recommended by the High Commission. Raju Sebastian is an assistant in the High Commission of India, not in a position to make such a recommendation but for the HCI (High Commission of India) to make any such statement, we need to scrutinise the email held up by Suresh Kalmadi," the Indian High Commission said in a statement.
"We don't know the contents of the email, which email address it was sent to, whether it is genuine or not," the statement also read.
Were prices inflated on basic rentals and purchases like airconditioners for Rs four lakh each and treadmills at four times their cost? No, says Suresh Kalmadi as he takes on the newest allegations to hit the Commonwealth Games.
Earlier in the day, addressing a press conference on the Commonwealth corruption issue, Kalmadi rubbished claims that 25,000 pounds were being paid to the UK-based firm each month. The CWG boss also showed mediapersons a letter in which the firm had been recommended by the Indian High Commission in London.
Kalmadi said he was "pained by the baseless charges of corruption" and that "every paisa spent on the Commonwealth Games was accounted for."
At the centre of the corruption charges, a letter written by Deputy High Commissioner of India in London, Rajesh N Prasad, to the Sports Ministry about allegations of corruption made by the UK government, which says that 25,000 pounds sent from the CWG in India to a company, AM films, in UK, is unaccounted for. (Read: Corruption scandal hits 2010 Games)
When asked by NDTV why the CWG didn't enter in any contract with the firm, Kalmadi said, "There was no written contract with Patel's firm as the decision was taken at the last minute. We had to get logistics for London in a hurry, so there was no time for tender."
Mr Kalmadi, who maintains that the Games will be word class when they are held in New Delhi in weeks from now, also said that foreign nations are satisfied with the security preparations which have been made.
'DELHI GOVT, SPORTS MINISTRY MUST ANSWER CVC'
As corruption allegations mount against the organisers of the commonwealth games, Kalmadi says the Delhi government and the sports ministry have to answer for many of the allegations raised by the Central Vigilance Commission. "The report of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) on corruption charges has nothing to do with the Organising Panel. The Sports Ministry and the Delhi government have to answer the report."
CVC report has asked the CBI to register a corruption case against certain MCD officials in connection with irregularities in a tender issued for a Commonwealth Games project worth several crores.
The CVC has found serious discrepancies like award of works at higher rates to bidders, poor quality of construction and grant of work to ineligible agencies in different Games-related construction works being carried out by various departments in the capital.
As per the assessment report prepared by the CVC's Chief Technical Examination Wing, large-scale procedural violations, including corruption, have been noticed in 16 projects.
The cost of the projects has been estimated to be about Rs 2,000 crore.
Mr Kalmadi said today said, "The CVC report is on inferior quality of work at the venues. We are now in a time when we have to take over venues. So before that we will ask for all approvals and clearances."
Meanwhile, the opposition BJP says the 2010 corruption scam must be thoroughly probed. BJP General Secretary Vijay Goel said, "The BJP demands a judicial probe into the CWG scam."
With controversies dogging Commonwealth Games, a "worried" Congress today said any irregularity should be probed into and the organisers as well as others involved should ensure that the country's prestige does not suffer.