Tax sleuths conduct search operations on Games contractors

New Delhi, Oct 19 (IANS) Officials of the Income Tax Department Tuesday started search and investigative operations in at least 25 premises of companies and individuals who won lucrative contracts for the just-concluded Commonwealth Games.

Among those whose premises were visited by the tax sleuths was senior leader of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Sudhanshu Mittal, whose close relatives have won some Games contracts, a senior official of the department said.

‘Let me clarify, these are search operations. The task assigned is to look into the books of accounts and related documents, examine the records and take custody of them, if necessary,’ the official told IANS.

‘We are searching for irregularities, if any, in execution of contracts. We are looking at all contractors. Whoever the contractor is, we are looking. I can’t name any specific company or person,’ the official added.

The development follows a host of measures announced by the government since the 12-day Games drew to a close Oct 14 to look into allegations of misappropriation of funds and questionable procedures followed for award of contracts for various projects.

Among them, the tenure of officials associated with the Games was extended, even as the country’s top auditor said a report on its accounts and financial activities would be presented to parliament in three months.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had also set up the high-level committee headed by former comptroller and auditor general V.K. Shunglu to look into all matters relating to the conduct and organisation of the Games.

The prime minister had also directed the ministries concerned to conduct thorough investigations into all complaints received of procedural and other irregularities and said that those found guilty should face severe and exemplary punishment.

Among the various agencies conducting a probe are the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Directorate of Enforcement, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, the Central Vigilance Commission and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

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