Tax raids in India over Commonwealth graft

Hundreds of tax inspectors raided scores of offices across India on Thursday probing allegations of corruption linked to the Delhi Commonwealth Games, reports said.

Companies contracted to provide sports surfaces, training equipment and landscaping for the Games were visited in New Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore and Mumbai, television news channels reported.

The budget for the Games, which were held in the Indian capital earlier this month, ballooned to an estimated $6-billion but the event was still hit by delayed venues and organisational problems.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh set up a panel to investigate claims of financial irregularities and two other government bodies are also running separate probes.

“The raids are aimed at unearthing unaccounted income,” the NDTV news channel reported, saying 300 tax inspectors had raided 60 premises in total.

Seized documents
Tender and contract documents were being seized, reports said, though the tax department declined to comment when contacted.

The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) watchdog has received complaints alleging up to $1,8-dollars of Games money was “misappropriated”, officials said last week.

Claims include payments to non-existent parties, wilful delays in executing contracts and over-inflated prices for many items including toilet rolls and treadmills.

Months before the event began, the CVC reported a plethora of problems with construction work including the use of poor-quality materials.

In one of the worst incidents, a new footbridge next to the main stadium fell down and injured scores of labourers 10 days ahead of the opening ceremony.

War of words
Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Suresh Kalmadi, chairperson of the Games’ organising committee, have been engaged in a war of words over responsibility for the Games, which were seen in India as an overall success.

Dikshit said that “the real corruption” had taken place within the organising committee, but Kalmadi accused Dikshit of hogging the limelight and told her to investigate corruption in her own departments. – AFP

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