Saturday, August 21, 2010

OC Officials in Clarification mood on London Allegations

In a series of startling disclosures, a suspended senior official of the Organizing Committee (OC) of the Commonwealth Games has alleged that Sanjay Mohindroo, the deputy director general and OC boss Suresh Kalmadi’s key aide had tried to appropriate over Rs 22 lakh from the funds meant for the Queen’s Baton relay inauguration in London last October.

M Jeychandren, joint director general (finance & accounts), one of the three officials suspended because of the controversy surrounding payoffs to AM Films, has made several startling claims in his defence in a private letter to Kalmadi, a copy of which is with TOI.

The story that Jeychandren’s letter tells is one of splurge and sleaze — with Kalmadi’s one-time blue-eyed boy Mohindroo allegedly splurging money in London while ostensibly organizing the baton relay function. When questioned by Jeychandren about his reimbursement for £32,596 (Rs 22 lakh) which he claimed to have spent from his pocket, he settled for just £2,366.

But that marked the beginning of Jeychandren’s travails. He submitted a detailed financial statement of the accounts of expenditure for the London event of October 29, 2009, to the OC in December. But till date, £65,000 is outstanding against him.

The OC secretary general, Lalit Bhanot, Kalmadi’s spokesman now, refused to sign it, even though every other official had cleared it. And now Jeychandren has been suspended without being given an opportunity to give his side of the story.

What The World Thinks

How are Commonwealth countries reacting to reports of scams and delays in the run-up to Games 2010?

‘London event accounts were compiled in haste’

Suspended joint director general (finance & accounts) of the Comonwealth Games Organizing Committee M Jeychandren claimed in a letter to Suresh Kalmadi that the latter’s key aide and OC deputy director general Sanjay Mohindroo had tried to misappropriate funds to the tune of Rs 22 lakh. In turn, Jeychandren’s file on expenses incurred for the Queen’s Baton relay inauguration in London last October have been held up by OC secretary general Lalit Bhanot. When contacted by TOI, Bhanot said, “Yes, I did send back the file (giving the London accounts of Jeychandren), but I don’t remember why.”

There are more damning disclosures in the letter written by Jeychandren to Kalmadi. He says that both he and Mohindroo were authorized to carry £65,000 on debit cards as advance for payments in London. But when he was in London, both Kalmadi and CEO Jarnail Singh asked him to return urgently because of several pending tenders, proposals etc. Before leaving London, when he was in the process of finalizing payments, the final invoices of AM Car & Van Hire Company were not forthcoming from Mohindroo, after approval from T S Darbari, alleges Jeychandren.

“When things were getting delayed and the demand from OC headquarter for my return with immediate effect was made, I had no other option but to leave the task of settling the final payment to AM Car & Van Hire Company, with the approval of Jt DG (Darbari) as per their invoices and according to the rates which were approved by HCI (High Commission of India) to DDG (Mohindroo),” he says.

When he was leaving, Jeychandran says, “in good faith, (I) decided to leave the official debit card issued to me with the remaining balance of £59,323, which was available in the official debit card entrusted to me, to DDG (Mohindroo) so that he could make payment on site at London against final invoice with the approval of Jt DG (Darbari).”

On their return from London, Jeyachandren had been following up with both Darbari and Mohindroo for submission of due accounts. In fact, Darbari had a number of unadjusted advances standing against his name at that time.

And after much cajoling, Mohindroo brought a bundle of vouchers in a completely disorganized manner. While it was being tabulated Darbari “was breathing down our neck and threatening to take the matter to chairman’s notice if the job is not done immediately. In the circumstances, the complete accounts were compiled post haste,’’ Jeychandren says.

It was at this stage Jeychandren claims to have caught out Mohindroo trying to pocket around Rs 22 lakh by claiming to have spent it from his pocket in London. TOI is in possession of a two-page note put up by Mohindroo for reclaiming £32,596.50.