Day: October 19, 2010

India begin probe into ‘corruption’ at Commonwealth Games

A group of Indian ministers is meeting later to begin investigating claims of corruption at the Commonwealth Games.

Led by Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy, they will look into the awarding of contracts and how the work was supervised.

Meanwhile, India’s media reports the Central Vigilance Commission, a graft watchdog, is checking 22 Games-related works and purchases for irregularities.

The run-up to the event in Delhi was dogged by construction delays.

After the troubled start, Commonwealth Games head Mike Fennell praised the event as the competition drew to a close last week.

But Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said an investigation was needed into an event which became a global story for all the wrong reasons.

The ministers will be helped by former Auditor General VK Shunglu as they scrutinise all aspects of the event’s organisation and planning.

Meanwhile, government agencies have been given until 31 October to submit replies to the Central Vigilance Commission’s investigation.

Investigators are due to visit the Games’ organising committee on Monday to audit its accounts.

On Sunday, the head of the committee, Suresh Kalmadi, lashed out at Delhi’s chief minister after she said the suspicion of corruption hung over his department.

“It is not right to deflect and point fingers at others when she must indulge in self-reflection on corruption in her own departments,” Mr Kalmadi said in a statement.

Before the Games began, he wrote a letter to MPs defending himself from allegations of corruption. He has not been charged with anything.

Delhi Commonwealth Games contractors tax raids

More than 200 tax investigators in India have searched the offices of a number of contractors used in the run-up to the Commonwealth Games.

The raids in Delhi came as the main opposition party, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), demanded a parliamentary investigation.

The Games, which ended last week in Delhi, were marred by spiralling costs and allegations of corruption.

The BJP says it has evidence of wrongdoing at government level.

‘Very big scam’

Income tax officials swooped on the offices of contract companies in and around Delhi on Tuesday, seizing documents relevant to any work associated with the Games.

Among the addresses raided was the residence of a businessman and prominent BJP activist, according to Indian media.

The BBC’s Chris Morris in Delhi says that now the Games are over, the political fight is beginning in earnest.

The Congress party-led government has already set up an inquiry, led by its urban development minister, into the event, promising anyone found guilty will be punished.

The BJP says millions of dollars were siphoned off from the Games budget, which ballooned to $6bn (£3.8bn), from an original estimate of $450m.

The opposition party alleges corruption in the building of sports facilities in particular.

BJP President Nitin Gadkari told reporters in Delhi that the Games had been a “very big scam”.