Australia joins bid to recover Delhi Games debts

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  1. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    Robin Pagnamenta From: The Times March 15, 2011 12:23PM
    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/new...elhi-games-debts/story-e6frg6nf-1226021739713


    DIPLOMATS from Australia and seven other countries have launched a joint offensive to recover more than $74 million in unpaid bills owed to foreign companies involved in last year's Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

    Ambassadors or high commissioners from Australia, Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Switzerland are asking two Indian ministers to intervene in the dispute, which involves nearly 20 foreign companies.

    "The long delay in settling these matters is damaging India's national reputation, denting the confidence of foreign business and raising doubts about the enforcement of contracts," the letters to Pranab Mukherjee, the Finance Minister, and Ajay Maken, the Sports Minister, said.

    As well as the unpaid bills, several hundred containers of Games-related equipment have been impounded in Delhi by customs officials since the event ended five months ago, creating havoc for companies that need the items for other projects.


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    Diplomatic sources said the refusal to release the containers went against an explicit commitment made by Indian officials before the Games.

    Despite pressure from Britsih Prime Minister David Cameron, who mentioned the dispute in a recent letter about UK-India trade to Manmohan Singh, his Indian counterpart, foreign diplomats have been struggling to make themselves heard in Delhi amid inquiries into alleged Games-linked corruption.

    Some overseas companies have been unwillingly dragged into the investigation after they were named in connection with allegedly inflated contracts for services and equipment.

    Swiss Timing, a provider of precision race timing equipment and services, was so angry about accusations that it had overcharged the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee that it took out full-page advertisements in some of India's largest newspapers last week protesting its innocence and criticising Indian officials.

    "Swiss Timing has entirely fulfilled its contract according to the stipulations and conditions set and agreed on by both the parties. The tender procedure and the bidding procedure have been totally transparent and Swiss Timing has at no time tried to illegally influence the tender and bidding procedure," the company said in the adverts.

    It also said that it had not been contacted by India's Criminal Bureau of Investigations, which is examining alleged irregularities in the Games.

    "Before, during and after the Games, the Swiss Timing experts had to work under disastrous, chaotic conditions. Despite this situation, Swiss Timing delivered an impeccable service," the company said.

    Two top officials, Lalit Bhanot and VK Verma, were arrested last month for alleged corruption. Both men deny the allegations.

    The Times
     
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