CBI inches closer to Kalmadi, searches aides Bhanot, Verma

FP

The CBI today registered a case of cheating against Commonwealth Games Organising Committee (OC) secretary-general Lalit Bhanot and director-general V K Verma for purchasing timing, scoring and result equipment from a Switzerland-based firm for an exorbitant Rs 107 crore.

The officers are accused of manipulating tender provisions in such a way that only Swiss Timing Ltd qualified for the contract. The firm had supplied similar equipment for Melbourne 2006 for allegedly a fourth of what it charged the OC. CBI said 22 OC officials including chairman Suresh Kalmadi are under the scanner for the alleged irregularity. A number of Games officials have already been made a part of the investigation; more may be questioned soon, sources in the CBI said. Bhanot was put through detailed questioning and his home and OC office were searched. Verma's premises were searched too, though he is in Kuala Lumpur and could not be questioned. No arrests have been made so far. CBI inches closer to Kalmadi, searches aides Bhanot, Verma

Expression of Interest was floated, only Swiss Timing Ltd met the laid-down criteria," a CBI spokesperson said. "The OC then went on to issue the tender in October 2009. The requirements in the tender was surreptitiously amended on October 4, making the bids more restrictive," the spokesperson added.The OC received only two bids in response to the tender. "Investigations have revealed prima facie that the other bidder, a Spanish firm, was wrongfully eliminated at the pre-qualification bid," the spokesperson said.Following the raids at 11 places today, the CBI recovered "voluminous incriminating documents", the spokesperson said. Bhanot said he alone had not taken the decision to purchase the equipment.

"The CBI team came asking me questions about the TSR equipment, all of which I have answered. All decisions were made by the executive board and approved at various levels. The price was negotiated by a committee of officials. Lalit Bhanot alone did not take any decision," Bhanot said.

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