''Signatures forged to release payment for CWG contractors''

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Ashwini Shrivastava

New Delhi, Jan 27 (PTI) Investigators probingfinancial irregularities in the conduct of the CommonwealthGames have found that some unidentified officials had forgedsignatures of certain Organising Committee members to releasepayments worth crores of rupees.

Sources said both CBI and CVC officials have seizedseveral documents related to payment details where forgedsignatures were used to release huge amounts of funds tocompanies, some of which did not even exist.

They said documents suggest that there has been acriminal conspiracy among unknown officials of the OC, whomisused authority to cause loss worth crores of rupees to theexchequer.

Sources said the money involved in the fraud could notbe ascertained but termed it "quiet huge".

"We are still investigating the matter. Several papershave been taken into custody and we are verifying facts. Wewill assess the role of certain OC personnel," an investigatorsaid requesting anonymity.

The official also refused to disclose the names ofpeople whose signatures were forged citing the pendinginvestigation.

Many contractors involved in various projects in therun up to the mega sporting event have claimed that theirpayments were still pending with the Committee. CertainAustralian firms have also raised the issue of non-paymentwith Foreign Minister S M Krishna.

Former OC Chairman Suresh Kalmadi, Secretary GeneralLalit Bhanot, Vice Chairman Raja Randhir Singh and Treasurer AK Mattoo were authorised to release payments.

Government has ousted Kalmadi and Bhanot from the OCin order to facilitate an impartial multi-agency probe in theGames bunglings.At present, OC Chief Executive Office JarnailSingh has taken over charge of Chairman and Secretary General.

Both Kalmadi and Bhanot have been interrogated by theCBI in connection with the corruption cases. Key aides of theformer OC head are also being questioned by the investigatingagency.

Different agencies like Central Vigilance Commission,Comptroller and Auditor General, Income Tax Department andEnforcement Directorate are probing several complaints ofcorruption and violation of official norms in the conduct ofthe mega sporting event.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had on October 25 lastyear appointed a high-level committee to look into financialand managerial lapses in the sporting extravaganza held herebetween October 3-14.

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