CWG scam: Bhanot, Verma sent to CBI custody for five days

February 24th, 2011 - 9:05 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 24 (IANS) A Delhi court Thursday sent Lalit Bhanot and V.K. Verma, former high ranking officials of the Commonwealth Games (CWG) Organising Committee, to five days’ CBI custody in connection with financial lapses in a contract with a Swiss company.Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Special Judge Talwant Singh sent the OC’s former secretary general Bhanot and former director general Verma to the probe agency’s custody till March 1.

The CBI in its plea sought seven days’ custody of Bhanot and Verma, against whom it has lodged first information reports (FIRs) for criminal conspiracy and cheating and for violating sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

“Accused persons entered into criminal conspiracy to cheat the government in the manner of awarding contract for timing, scoring and result system to be acquired for the CWG,” said the investigative agency.

“The accused officials of the Organising Committee in conspiracy with others, by abusing their official positions, awarded the contract to Swiss timing company at exorbitant rates of Rs.1.07 billion, in a most wrongful manner, restricting all competitors, and thereby caused huge loss to the government of India and corresponding wrongful gain to the company,” the CBI said.

“The investigation of this case is at preliminary stage. The role of person is of serious nature,” states the CBI’s remand application.

The court meanwhile has allowed both Bhanot and Verma to have home-cooked food. “They can also meet their family members and can go for a walk on CBI direction,” said the court.

Defence counsel opposed the CBI application, saying the FIRs against them were based on sources and sources were not always right.

Advocate for Bhanot, Ramesh Gupta while opposing the CBI plea said that Bhanot has only acted on a decision of a committee comprising 30 members from the sports ministry and the state government.

“He has only been arrested in order to save other persons from the ministry,” said Gupta, adding that Bhanot has also submitted a written reply to the CBI query.

Supporting Gupta’s argument, Verma’s counsel Aman Lekhi submitted that the CBI has seized all the documents. This case was based on documents, which were the primary evidence, then why should he be kept in custody.

“Verma was just an employee there, he had a limited role. He was not the one who finalised any decision. He was just made a scape goat,” said Lekhi.

Verma told reporters before the hearing: “Media is just highlighting the case and after some time things will clear up and you all will get to know the real fact.”

Speaking to IANS before being brought to court, Bhanot said: “We have not done anything wrong. All the decisions were taken collectively by the board and the truth will be out. Media has hyped the matter and I never expected this.”

The CBI Wednesday arrested Verma and Bhanot, who was a key aide of OC chairman Suresh Kalmadi, for irregularities to the tune of Rs.1.07 billion ($23 million) in a contract with the Swiss company for time-keeping equipment for the Oct 3-14, 2010, mega event.

Four close aides of Kalmadi - T.S. Darbari, former joint director general of the OC, and Sanjay Mahendroo, former deputy director general of the OC - were arrested Nov 15, 2010.

M. Jayachandran, former joint director (finance), was arrested Nov 21 and Shekhar Deorukhkar, Kalmadi’s officer on special duty, was arrested Feb 11.

Darbari, Mahendroo and Jayachandran have already got bail from the Delhi High Court.

On Wednesday, K. Udai Kumar Reddy, former additional director general of OC, and Praveen Bakshi, director of ESJAV:D Art:Indo Consortium, a private firm, were remanded to CBI’s custody for five days.

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