Sydney Morning Herald – November 27, 2010
Amrit Dhillon IN DELHI and Louise Hall
THE storm of corruption allegations against Delhi’s Commonwealth Games Organising Committee has made employees afraid to approve payments such as those owed to the internationally renowned events producer Ric Birch, a source inside the committee has said.
Mr Birch alleges that the committee has failed to pay several international contractors, including three Australian companies, millions of dollars in fees.
In addition, almost 100 shipping containers full of lighting, audio, pyrotechnic and staging equipment are stranded on Indian docks or at the main stadium as customs and the official freight supplier, Agility, refuse to process the necessary paperwork.
The committee insider said recent corruption allegations had resulted in near-paralysis within the organisation. Bills were not being paid for fear that people who approved payments could later be open to charges of making corrupt payments.
”Every single detail, every single word – its meaning, definition, its possible connotation – of every document and contract is being minutely examined, checked, double-checked and triple-checked to ensure that no one can be accused of a transgression,” he said. ”People are scared that if they clear a bill, say, of an Australian contractor, they will be accused by the media of ‘siphoning’ money off to an Australian. The media have made such crazy and wild allegations that no one wants to take any chances.”
He said Mr Birch was not the only person waiting to be paid.
”There are scores of employees who worked for the committee and left once the Games were over and they still haven’t been paid their salaries,” he said.
Mr Birch said the Delhi organising committee was a disgrace for ”basking in the praise of world media” for the spectacular ceremonies while failing to pay the creative and technical crew who made it possible.
Mr Birch’s Spectak Productions is owed 15 per cent of its fees for creative direction, choreography, showcalling and design, but numerous attempts to extract payment have been met with silence.
”Certainly this type of behaviour makes it extremely unlikely that any of the international suppliers, consultants and contractors involved in Delhi 2010 would in any way support or endorse any future attempt by India to host the Olympic Games, should India decide to make a bid,” Mr Birch said.
A Sydney fireworks company, Howard and Sons, is owed $300,000 in unpaid fees and is unable to export about $1 million of equipment used to create the glittering grand finale six weeks ago.
”All I’m after is what I’m legitimately owed but [the Indian government agencies] are sitting on their hands,” the company director, Andrew Howard, said.