Man in charge of India's Commonwealth Games arrested

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The Independent Online

The chief organiser of last year's Commonwealth Games was arrested yesterday as part of a corruption investigation into the scandal-plagued competition in Delhi.

India had hoped that the Games would herald its rise as a major power, but instead it was deeply embarrassed by corruption allegations, construction delays and cost overruns as the budget ballooned to billions of dollars.

The organising committee chairman, Suresh Kalmadi, the highest-ranking official arrested in the inquiry, has been charged with conspiracy for allegedly favouring a Swiss company in the purchase of equipment for timing and scoring events, the Central Bureau of Investigation said.

The bureau, the Indian equivalent of the FBI, claims that the government was tricked out of 1.41 billion rupees (£19m) paid to Swiss Timings Ltd for equipment available from another company for much less.

It also said competition for the contract had been wrongfully restricted "in a premeditated and planned manner," with no clear criteria for selecting the winning bids and alleged coercion and threats against those making the final decision.

Two of Mr Kalmadi's aides on the committee, Lalit Bhanot and VK Verma, were arrested last month in the same case.

The Games cost India about 700bn rupees (£9bn) despite an initial estimate of 18.9bn rupees ($412 million). An Indian government report last month said delays, administrative inefficiency and wasteful spending had cost the country £215m.