Police target top official in Delhi Games probe


NEW DELHI – Indian police said Thursday they had registered a case against the director-general of the Delhi Commonwealth Games, the most senior organiser of the tainted event named in a widening graft probe.


The Games were marred by venue delays and chaotic organisation

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) spokeswoman Vineeta Thakur told AFP that police had registered a first information report against V.K. Verma, the first step in criminal proceedings against an accused.

Verma was director-general in the organising committee of the October 3-14 Games, headed by its chairman, Suresh Kalmadi, who was quizzed by federal CBI detectives for eight hours on Wednesday.

“Verma is named as the key accused in the case which we have registered against him and four companies,” she said, adding that the four Delhi-based firms were searched on Thursday.

Police said the case against Verma related to contracts, reportedly worth six billion rupees (133.3 million dollars), awarded for the refurbishing of various stadiums of the scandal-hit Games.

Verma and the companies are suspected of cheating, criminal conspiracy and violating India’s tough anti-corruption laws.

In addition to searches at the four companies named in the case, CBI detectives carried out searches at another 10 premises in New Delhi and its suburbs on Thursday, a CBI source told AFP.

Police have so far charged three lower-ranking officials who are now in jail awaiting trial, but attention is turning to top managers, including Kalmadi, for their role.

The Games, which were marred by venue delays and chaotic organisation, were also hit by claims of massive financial irregularities as the budget ballooned three times to an estimated six billion dollars.

The national anti-corruption watchdog, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), received complaints alleging up to 1.8 billion dollars of Games money was misappropriated.

A initial report by the CVC into the Games confirmed the use of sub-standard construction materials in a host of Games-related building contracts and deliberate cost overruns.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, seen as “Mr Clean” in his corruption-ridden administration, set up a panel after the Games ended to investigate graft claims. It is expected to deliver its preliminary report later this month.

The Games brought together 6,000 athletes and officials from 71 countries and territories, mostly from the former British empire.

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