CBI starts enquiry into ‘gift scam’ at MEA

A departmental inquiry could not find any involvement of ministry officials in the ‘gift scam’ at the ministry of external affairs and the inquiry has now been handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the ministry said.

The alleged scam has been pursued by RTI activist Subhash Agarwal, who filed an RTI query recently. The ministry had said that it had requested for a CBI inquiry, at that time.

The scam involves purchase of sub-standard materials to be given as gifts to visits heads of states such as Presidents and Prime Ministers of other countries and other guests of the country.

“It came to the notice of the Ministry in May 2011 that some of the gifts being procured by the Protocol Division of the Ministry were not of the desired quality and specification,” the ministry said.

Under normal process, the government buys its gifts from government agencies such as Cottage Industries Emporia, but also buys from private contractors under “special circumstances.” The alleged scam took place in sourcing gifts from private agencies by the ministry’s protocol division.

“A preliminary inquiry was conducted into the matter by the Ministry which could not establish prima facie any involvement or complicity of officials of the Ministry,” the ministry added.