Tuesday, April 26, 2011

CWG scam: UK firm owner may turn approver

Suresh KalmadiNEW DELHI: Arrested former Commonwealth Games Organizing Committee chief Suresh Kalmadi may be headed for more trouble with Ashish Patel, the UK-based owner of AM Cars and Films, likely to turn approver in the Queen's Baton Relay case

After his arrest in irregularities in the timing, scoring and results contract for the Commonwealth Games, Kalmadi can be booked for payments made to the UK firm for hire of cars, screens and portable toilets for the October 2009 function flagged off by the British Queen in London. 

No contract was entered into with the firm on the plea that the OC had to respond to last-minute demands by British authorities — an argument that is undone by evidence that the organizers were in touch with Patel much earlier. Evidence has also surfaced of Kalmadi himself authorizing payments to the firm quoting paucity of time. 

Now, Patel could be an approver in the two cases related the QBR contract registered by CBI in November 2010. A two-member CBI team that went to London to question Patel, who is also an accused, and to gather other evidence said the businessman had been cooperative. 

"Ashish Patel was questioned twice and he has given us important details on the whole contract. We showed him documents which we have collected during investigations. We told him where he stands," said a source. Officials added that if Ashish Patel did not cooperate, CBI will soon begin the process for his extradition. As he is a British citizen, Patel cannot be arrested by CBI but he was questioned at length on exchange of emails between arrested OC officials Sanjay Mohindroo and T S Darbari, release of payments and the so-called contract. Patel could not explain the documents though CBI could not get a statement given his nationality. 

Patel is expected to submit his reply to the Scotland Yard police department which will pass it on to the CBI. "We have substantial evidence against Patel of his complicity with Darbari and Mohindroo. Being an accused, he could turn approver declaring that he was also part of the conspiracy," said an official. 

Before questioning Patel, CBI took permission of UK's Serious Fraud Office. CBI is also hopeful the SFO will register a case against the car rental firm (AM Cars) for alleged overpricing. 

In its FIR, CBI stated, "It is alleged that in relation to the QBR held on October 29, 2009, the OC awarded the work of transportation to the AM Car and Van Hire Ltd at exorbitantly high rates without following the standard tender process." 

CBI has registered nine FIRs in different cases related to alleged corruption in the mega sporting event held in Delhi on October 3-14 last year.

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