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Commonwealth Games in Delhi organizer arrested on corruption allegations

Tuesday, April 26th 2011 - 02:29 UTC
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Suresh Kalmadi was removed from his post in January Suresh Kalmadi was removed from his post in January

The chief organiser of the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi has been arrested following an investigation into allegations of corruption. Suresh Kalmadi was removed from his post in January.

Police say he will be charged with conspiracy regarding the awarding of commercial contracts for the Games - he denies any wrongdoing. The build-up to the Games, held in the capital in October, was marred by allegations of sleaze and incompetence.

A spokesman for India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said Mr Kalmadi was arrested “for conspiracy to cause favour to a company in Switzerland while procuring timers and scoring equipment for the Games”.

Other charges relate to contracts at a 2009 event in London which marked the start of a baton race across Commonwealth countries, say reports.

Mr Kalmadi is expected to appear in court this week. If he is found guilty he could face years in prison.

In February, organising committee Secretary General Lalit Bhanot and another top official, VK Verma, were arrested and accused of financial irregularities linked to the Games.

The Games cost several billion dollars to stage and were meant to do for India's image what the Olympics did for China, says the BBC's Mark Dummett in northern India.

But instead the event was undermined by allegations of corruption and was so badly organised they became a national shame, says the BBC correspondent, especially after photographs emerged showing the filthy state of the athletes' accommodation.

The budget for the event ballooned to an estimated 6bn US dollars with India's federal corruption commission receiving complaints alleging that up to 1.8bn of Games money was misappropriated.

The row over the Games is one of a series of corruption scandals that has rocked India in recent months.

Also on Monday, Kanimozhi - an MP and the daughter of a key ally in the coalition government - was charged with handling bribes. The allegations relate to a multi-billion dollar scandal over the sale in 2008 of mobile phone licences for a fraction of their real value.

India's former telecoms minister, Andimuthu Raja, has already been charged with conspiracy, forgery and fraud over the scandal.

Another allegation which has angered the public centres on claims that houses intended for war widows were diverted to civil servants.

Earlier this year, the head of the country's anti-corruption watchdog was forced by the Supreme Court to resign, on the grounds that he himself faced corruption charges.

Categories: Politics, International.

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