The mystery surrounding the Indian high commission e-mail, which triggered the corruption storm that has engulfed the Commonwealth Games, is getting more intriguing as the official who originally received it has refused to confirm or deny its authenticity.
The e-mail, sent by an IHC protocol official Raju Sebastian, recommended various service providers for the London launch of the Queen's Baton Relay. It was made public by CWG Organising Committee Chairman Suresh Kalmadi to justify payments to a little-known UK-firm -- AM Films -- for its 'services' during the event, which was also attended by President Pratibha Patil and British Queen Elizabeth II.
The twist came when the high commission denied recommending A M Films and it got more mysterious when the ministry of external affairs declared that the mail could have been 'doctored'.
The ministry said the last line of the mail, recommending A M Films' name, could have been added to the original communication from the IHC.
The mail was originally sent to OC Director Raj Singh and later forwarded to suspended Deputy Director General Sanjay Mohindroo, who in turn sent it to sacked Joint Director General T S Darbari. Darbari, claiming innocence in the entire episode, maintains he has nothing to with the mail as he neither received it first-hand nor sent it to anybody else.
From documents available with PTI, it seems even Raj Singh does not remember whether the mail recommending A M Films is authentic or not. In his explanation to a three-member panel investigating the matter, Darbari said he asked Singh to confirm the authenticity of the mail but only got a non-committal response.
In his reply, Singh, on both the mails, commented, "It appears that the mail has come in my mail box which was further forwarded to Sanjay Mohindroo. However, as on date, the mail is not available in my mail box. Tech FA has been requested to investigate and to store the mail if further need is there."
On his part, Darbari said he was not a signatory to any dealings with A M Films.
"The record shows that I am not a signatory to any of the decisions taken for engaging cars, video boards and other items required for the event on hire from A M cars and Van Hire Ltd. and A M Films Ltd.," he said in a letter to probe panel head and Organising Committee CEO Jarnail Singh.
"The entire matter relating to the engagement of vendors, passing of bills and the disbursements of payments was handled by a committee constituted for this purpose consisting of M Jeychandren (joint director general, Finance an Accounts), Sanjay Mohindroo (DDG, Marketing and IT) and Sudhir Verma (DDG, Communications). These arrangements were duly approved by the competent authority," he said.
In the minutes of a meeting in the run-up to the QBR function, it was also revealed that the AM Films' quotation was found to be the lowest by the OC and it also agreed to make 100 per cent advance payments to the firm.