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A Singapore company has spent more than US$5 million over the past three years securing big name sponsorship worth US$85 million for the New Delhi Commonwealth Games organising committee.
Its reward? Not one cent in fees or payment owed and instead have been sacked and flattened by wild allegations of corruption in India, fuelled by sensational reporting on Indian television.
The Commonwealth Games in India are already a disaster, with the Indian Prime Minister having to step in to take direct control amidst fake compliance of building works, serious building delays inflated payments in procurement, and backhanders that have already seen the resignation or sacking of three of the organising committee members.
However it has been the corralling of highly respected international companies into the vortex of corruption claims that have seriously undermined India’s credibililty to the point where other international companies are demanding payment up front. Others are withdrawing, and quickly.
At the Youth Olympics in Singapore, international sports leaders are staggered at the implicatiion being spread widely by the Indians that some of the most reputable names in world sport are corrupt.
So far the organisers are blaming the British company Fast Track (which pulled together the international broadcast deals) , the Swiss company EKS (which advised on the venues and technical support for the workforce) and have sensationally claimed that even the Commonwealth Games Federation’s top officials, president Mike Fennell and its chief executive Mike Hooper are somehow involved in an ”international conspiracy”.
All of which might take the focus off the seriously troubled Games preparations, except that the baseless claims are being taken seriously in India.
Last week Telegraph Sport reported how the allegations were undermining India’s chances of launching a bid for a future Olympic Games.
Those feelings have only deepened in the past few days. Sports Marketing and Management (Singapore) known as SMAM is run by Australian businessman Mike Bushell, who set up an office of 12 staff in India, including six local Indian employees to service the contract to secure global and local sponsorships for the organising committee.
His company organised the sponsorships of the Games by major Indian and overseas companies and was due to be paid a sliding scale of commission of between 15 to 21 percent when the sponsorship monies were due earlier this year.
But instead of receiving payments under the contract that was agreed to by the organisers, earlier this month his company was sacked, ostensibly because they had failed to deliver.
Yet the US $85 million was secured at a time of global financial stress and was more than what was secured for the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006. The company still has not received any monies.
”I have worked 25 years to build up a business that has a strong reputation based on performance, integrity and morality and our reputation means more to us than any financial benefit,” said Bushell.
”What has happened in New Delhi has completely devastated me, my family and my business and it is completely unjust, unfounded and baselss accusations that have been thrown at me.. I just feel sick.”
His distress has not gone unnoticed. The world leading company in firework displays, Howards Pyrotechnics, which is supplying the Indians with ceremony fireworks says it their standard practice to be paid on delivery and while they were not alarmed at this point, they were ”interested” that a lot of other companies have had difficulties.
”If they don’t pay, we don’t unload (the boat), if one side doesn’t fulfil is requirements under the contract then the other side takes its stuff home,” Howards Pyrotechnics director Andrew Howard said.
It is understood that at least one global firm has withdrawn its services from the Games because of difficulties other companies have faced and fears that they will not be paid.
Great Big Events, which has conducted the in-venue promotions for major events around the world for two decades is believed to be withdrawing its association with the Indian organising committee.
The Australian producer Ric Birch and his American company are involved in the opening ceremony extravaganza but could not be reached for comment if they had any serious concerns. But the sensationalism against the international companies persist.
The Indian television station NDTV said it had uncovered ”an international money trail of corruption to Commonwealth Games headquarters in London”.
It has claimed that EKS owner Craig McLatchey had been awarded a contract worth US$600,000 at the same time as he was helping the Commonwealth Games Federation.
However the Commonwealth Games Federation’s Mike Hooper said McLatchey’s work had been revealed at the time and that the contract with EKS had been awarded by the organising committee – with whom McLatchey has no conflict of interest, not by the CGF with whom he was offering technical advice.