CBI arrests Kalmadi aides Bhanot, Verma (Third Lead)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

NEW DELHI - Lalit Bhanot and V.K. Verma, two close aides of Commonwealth Games (CWG) chief organiser Suresh Kalmadi, were arrested Wednesday for irregularities to the tune of Rs.1.07 billion ($23 million) in a contract with a Swiss company for time-keeping equipment during the Oct 3-14, 2010 event, officials said.

“The CBI has today (Wednesday) arrested the director general (Verma) and the then secretary-general (Bhanot) of the organising committee, CWG, 2010 in the on-going investigation of a CWG case pertaining to procurement of Timing, Scoring and Result (TSR) system,” CBI spokesperson Vinita Thakur said.

“CBI had earlier registered a case on the allegations that certain OC (Organising Committee) officials had entered into a criminal conspiracy with representatives of a Swiss Company and awarded the contact for TSR system at an exorbitant cost of Rs.107 crore in a pre-mediated manner, thereby causing huge loss to the government,” the official said.

Bhanot and Verma have been sports administrators for over a quarter of a century and were the secretary general and director general, respectively, of the CWG organising committee of which Kalmadi, a Congress MP, was the chairperson.

The three were sacked last month when Ajay Maken became the new sports minister in a cabinet reshuffle replacing M.S. Gill.

“The arrested accused will be produced tomorrow (Thursday) in the court of special judge, CBI,” she said.

Replying to question whether Kalmadi will be arrested, she said: “It is all a matter of investigation, so we cannot say anything.

Bhanot and Verma’s arrest came after they had been quizzed by the premier investigative agency for hours at the CBI headquarters here Wednesday, sources said.

Kalmadi had also been questioned by CBI Jan 5 and his premises in Delhi, Pune and Mumbai were searched. The homes and offices of Bhanot and Verma were raided Nov 30, 2010.

Verma was also quizzed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in October last year for his alleged role in the financial irregularities in the Queen’s Baton Relay event in London in 2009.

Four close aides of Kalmadi - T.S. Darbari, the joint director general (revenue, marketing and chairman secretariat) in the OC, and Sanjay Mahendroo, the deputy director general (marketing), were arrested Nov 15, 2010, M. Jayachandran, joint director (finance), was arrested Nov 21 and Shekhar Deorukhkar, Kalmadi’s officer on special duty, was arrested Feb 11.

Meanwhile, CBI special judge O.P. Saini Wednesday sent K. Udai Kumar Reddy, additional director general of OC and Praveen Bakshi, director of ESJAV:D Art:Indo Consortium, a private firm to five days CBI custody, after the agency told the court that they were “required for confrontation with other conspirators to find out the money trail”.

Bakshi and Reddy were arrested Tuesday.

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