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Commonwealth Games officials arrested in graft probe

media Indian soldiers rebuild a bridge that collapsed during the Commonwealth … Reuters/Adnan Abidi

Indian police on Wednesday arrested two top organisers of last year’s Commonwealth Games as part of an ongoing corruption investigation. They accuse organising committee director general VK Verma and secretary general Lalit Bhanot of rigging contract bids in favour of the Swiss Timing company.

As thousands demonstrated in Delhi against the soaring cost of living, the Central Bureau of Investigation swooped on the men, claiming they were guilty of conspiracy, cheating and corruption that cost the government millions.

They are alleged to have rigged the bidding for timing events so that other contenders were eliminated and Swiss Timing could charge “exorbitant rates” of 1.07 billion rupees (17 million euros) “causing huge losses to the government”.

Both men have denied any wrongdoing, as has the company, which was also the official time-keeper at the Atlanta, Sydney, Athens and Beijing Olympics.

Last month the sports ministry sacked Bhanot and games chief Suresh Kalmadi from the organising committee so that the police could conduct their investigation.

The Delhi games’s cost ballooned to four billion euros and their organisation was widely criticised.

The national anti-corruption watchdog, the Central Vigilance Commission, received complaints has received complaints that up to 1.3 billion euros of the event’s funding has been misappropriated.

The games case is one of several graft scandals which have added to discontent which has undermined Prime Minister's Manmohan Singh's government.

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