Indian high commission preparing reply on CWG payments controversy

August 2nd, 2010 - 6:59 pm ICT by IANS  

By Venkata Vemuri
London, Aug 2 (IANS) The Indian High Commission is preparing a reply to claims by Commonwealth Games Organising Committee (OC) chairman Suresh Kalmadi that a junior clerk of the mission had introduced an Indian-owned London firm to whom the committee paid large sums of money for services obtained during the Queen’s Baton Relay function here last October.

High Commission spokesperson Raveesh Kumar told IANS Monday: “We are examining all aspects of the issue in detail.”

Other sources said that the commission was in the process of preparing its report upon examining all the e-mails between commission officials and the OC and in particular, the mails purportedly sent by the junior clerk, Raju Sebastian, introducing London-based firm AK Films, owned by one Asish Patel, to the OC.

They said Sebastian initially did not recall having sent such a mail, prompting the commission officials to call for all the e-mails to ascertain the specific e-mail addresses from which correspondence was sent to the OC.

The original controversy related to the British tax authorities wanting to know if there were any discrepancies in the payments made to AK Films by the OC for the services rendered.

Their attention was drawn to the payments when the OC approached them this March for a VAT refund of 14,000 pounds for the payments.

It is claimed that the firm and its sister concern, AM Car and Van Hire, were paid nearly 450,000 pounds by the OC. The British authorities apparently claimed that 25,000 pounds was continuing to be paid into the firm’s account.

On his part, the firm’s owner Ashish Patel denied receiving the monthly amounts and said the OC had paid him only 247,000 pounds and still owed him 147,000 pounds towards transport rental costs.

The controversy moved on from the size of payments to contractual irregularities after reports that no contract had been drawn up between the OC and the firm. The OC, through Kalmadi, explained that was because things were done at the last minute and that the firm had been contacted as it had been recommended by the Indian high commission.

The controversy thus shifted to its current phase when the high commission denied recommending the firm and Kalmadi retaliated he had in his possession mails from Raju Sebastian as proof.

Kalmadi denies corruption is involved in the deal with the firm. In the absence of a contract, it is still be to ascertained whether the payments were made to the firm(s) for hiring video equipment or renting vehicles or both.

(Venkata Vemuri can be contacted at venkata.v@ians.in)

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