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Tuesday, June 02, 2020

DDCA’s deal under scanner as ombudsman orders forensic audit

Ombudsman Justice (retired) Deepak Verma took the decision when he got no response from Apex Council members after he asked them to submit all documents related to the contractor.

Written by Nihal Koshie | New Delhi | Updated: April 23, 2020 9:20:11 am
India vs Sri Lanka, Sri lanka tour of India 2017, DDCA, Ferzo Shah Kotla, Virat Kohli, sports news, cricket, Indian Express The centre square at the Ferozshah Kotla Stadium. (Express Photo)

The Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) ombudsman has ordered a forensic audit of an agreement between the state unit and a contractor for modernisation of the restaurant, bar, members’ lounge, and cricket library.

Ombudsman Justice (retired) Deepak Verma took the decision when he got no response from Apex Council members after he asked them to submit all documents related to MSL Jangid JV, the contractor. The value of the work awarded was Rs 6.25 crore.

The ombudsman has also issued instructions to stop the payment of Rs 34 lakh to the contractor as relevant documents were not produced, including a copy of the original agreement signed on December 10, 2019.

Two members of the Apex Council, one of whom is part of the infrastructure committee of the DDCA, had written to the ombudsman alleging fraud in the agreement with the contractor.

Last month, Justice Verma ordered a forensic audit of the DDCA for the past five years, including balance sheets and all memorandum of understanding documents that have been signed but stated that the agreement with MSL Jangid JV had to be scrunitised first.

“I would like to point out that since the complaints were primarily made against the agreement (between DDCA and MSL Jangid JV), it would be proper to conduct the forensic audit in relation to the said agreement first, followed by detailed and comprehensive audit of the entire DDCA. Forensic audit with respect to agreement with MSL Jangid JV shall be completed expeditiously and preferably within two to four weeks from the date of this order,” Justice Verma wrote in an order issued last month.

READ | Legal expenses trump cricket contracts in DDCA

Sanjay Bhardwaj, a member of the finance and infrastructure committee, was one of the complainants.

Bhardwaj’s says his eyebrows were raised when he visited the registered address submitted by the contractor.

“The address mentioned in the agreement is 540, Street 10, Sardarpur Colony, Sector 45, Noida. I went myself to check if any company operated from this address. There was no such company. The building number mentioned is 540 but there is no building number beyond 480. The DDCA has got into an agreement with a company whose address is false. It is a slum area and no company address of Jangid JV was found. I wrote to the ombudsman because there seemed to be something fraudulent,” Bhardwaj, who is also a director (cricket), said.

He also claimed to have video recordings of his visit to Sardarpur Colony and conversations with people in the area.

DDCA standing counsel Gautam Dutta was appointed by the ombudsman as the person-in-charge to assist the auditor and to ‘ensure all compliance’.

“There is a complaint by two directors of the company, one is the joint secretary and one is the cricket director, who himself is part of the infrastructure committee. If these people are saying that there is something fishy in the agreement then the entire Apex Council, the entire administrative staff of the DDCA must dig out all documents and unearth whatever is there in the infrastructure fiasco. Every time corruption charges are levelled, they are swept under the carpet in the DDCA. The ombudsman, in this case, has taken swift action and it is our duty to support him and assist him. It is in the interest of DDCA,” Dutta said.

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This is not the first time that DDCA has been under the scanner for connections with alleged shell companies. An internal fact-finding report in 2015 found at least three companies that had received payments from the DDCA for work at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium having the same registered office, same individual directors and shared email IDs. Visits to the registered addresses of these companies by The Indian Express shortly after the fact-finding report was released showed that they did not function from the location mentioned.

At the address mentioned of a marketing company, an IT company and a trading company – all of whom received payments from the DDCA – were a ghee shop, a dispensary and a garment shop.

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