New Delhi, Apr 25: Sacked CWG Organising Committee Chief Suresh Kalmadi was today arrested by CBI on charges of cheating, conspiracy and corruption in connection with awarding some Games contracts and the ruling Congress wasted no time in suspending the Lok Sabha MP.
Six months after the end of the New Delhi Commonwealth Games that was mired in controversies and scams, the CBI finally closed in on 66-year-old Kalmadi, the CWG's public face, arresting him for allegedly awarding illegal contracts to a Swiss firm for Timing-Scoring-Result (TSR) system for the Games causing a loss of Rs 95 crore to the exchequer.
A beleaguered Kalmadi's arrest was announced after his more than four hours questioning at the CBI headquarters, his fourth since December last, over the alleged irregularities related to the award of contract to Swiss Timekeeping and the Queens Baton Relay(QBR).
The agency also arrested two other OC officials Surjeet Lal, Deputy Director General (Procurement) and A S V Prasad, Joint Director General (Sports) in the same case.
Kalmadi, who came to the headquarters of the agency here in the morning, was arrested at 1530 hours, a senior CBI official said.
Kalmadi, an MP from Pune, and the two other officals will be in CBI custody tonight and they will be produced in a court tomorrow.
The CBI registered a case under section 120B (conspiracy) read with Section 420 (cheating) IPC and other relevant sections of Prevention of Corruption Act in the case, an official said.
“The CBI has today arrested the then Chairman of OC of Commonwealth Games-2010 for conspiracy to cause favour to a private firm based in Switzerland in awarding the contract for Timing, Scoring and Result system at an inflated cost of Rs 141 crore,” CBI spokesperson Dharni Mishra told reporters.
Kalmadi's arrest came weeks after his close aide and OC's Secretary General Lalit Bhanot and Director General V K Verma were arrested in the same case. CBI officials said more arrests would follow in the case.
Shortly after Kalmadi's arrest was announced, AICC general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi said the Congress has suspended Kalmadi.
“The Disciplinary Committee(of the Congress has suspended Suresh kalmadi from the membership of the party,” Dwievedi said.
Problems also mounted for Kalmadi in the sphere of sports administration after his arrest with the Union Sports ministry writing a letter to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) asking it to consider appointing a new president to replace him.
Opposition BJP and CPI-M said the arrest of Kalmadi was “belated” and “just the tip of the iceberg” and that immediate action should be taken against others involved in alleged irregularities.
BJP's Vijay Goel demanded the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit since she has been indicted by by the Prime Minister-appointed V K Shunglu Committee that probed the games.
Kalmadi in his defence has always maintained that he was not the only one involved in the decision-making process at the OC.
CBI officials said the entire procedure to award the contract to the firm—Swiss Time Keeping- was pre-meditated and even the OC officials who toed the line of Kalmadi and other officials were selected to remain in furtherance of the deal while the ones who did not toe their line were “thrown out”.
The CBI alleged that “officials of the Organizing Committee had conspired with representatives of the private firm in Switzerland and the contract for timing, scoring, result was awarded by wrongfully restricting and eliminating competition from other suppliers in pre-meditated and planned manner.
“Investigation has revealed that the Committee for shortlisting prospective bidders for TSR was constituted by selecting handpicked officials,” the CBI spokesperson said.
Investigation has also revealed that members of the tenders evaluation committee were coerced and threatened to disqualify other bidders. It also showed that Indian representatives of the favoured supplier were in regular contact with the three arrested Organizing Committee officials much before the award of tender, the spokesperson added.
“Wrongful loss of approximately 95 crores was caused to the public exchequer,” the agency said.
CBI officials said that while Kalmadi's signatures were on all documents as he was the head of the executive board of the OC, they were not going by what the board approved but by circumstantial evidence and testimonies of witnesses.
The officials said during their investigations they found that the firm that lost the bid for TSR against Swiss Time Keeping—MSN Spain—had provided similar service during the Asian Games which were held recently at Guangzhou.
The CBI, according to sources, also tracked and is probing a transfer of Rs 23 crore to the Indian representative of Swiss Time Keeping, located at Hyderabad.
The agency has so far registered ten cases of which three are related to restoration work of two sporting venues, two are related to Queen Baton's relay, while one each is related to overlays, contract given to Swiss Time Keeping, and contract given to SIS live for the coverage of the Games.
Today was the fourth time that Kalmadi was questioned by the CBI with the first one being at his residence during December last year and the other on January 5 at the CBI headquarters and the third being on March 15. PTI