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Last Updated: Friday, 17 March 2006, 16:27 GMT
Speaker's office rejects BBC report
Indian Speaker Somnath Chatterjee
Chatterjee 'scrupulously maintains records'
A BBC report on a reprimand served to the speaker of India's parliament by federal auditors has been described by his office as "baseless, malicious and rubbish".

The report by India's top auditing body says Somnath Chatterjee spent thousands of dollars more than his entitlement without submitting valid receipts.

The information about Mr Chatterjee's expenses came in a report by India's Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) dated 1999.

It said Mr Chatterjee had drawn large tour advances but not submitted evidence of expenditure during international trips made between 1996 and 1999.

Mr Chatterjee, who is an MP of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), was then the chairman of the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC).

He held the post until he took over as Speaker of the lower house of parliament in June, 2004.

No further comment

The CAG says that in 1996-97 alone, Mr Chatterjee drew $8,525 above the amount he was entitled to without furnishing evidence of expenditure.

The CAG report added: "Scrutiny of hotel bills of the chairman and managing director of the WBIDC relating to their stay in Israel, Germany, France and the UK from 8 to 22 September 1998 revealed that apart from room rentals, an expenditure of $1,072 was made towards minibar, bar, laundry and tobacco."

Despite several requests, the speaker's office would not comment further.

But a report by the Press Trust of India quotes sources in the Speaker's office as saying that Mr Chatterjee "scrupulously maintains records of unspent sanctioned money returned to the government and he did it even as WBIDC chairman".

Later Mr Chatterjee appeared on state-run Doordarshan television and said the report was old and the issue was "ridiculous".


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