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Friday, July 23, 2021

Indian Ambassador to Qatar denies financial impropriety allegations

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India's Ambassador to Doha Sanjiv Arora
India’s Ambassador to Doha Sanjiv Arora

India’s government has launched an investigation into its ambassador to Doha over alleged financial mismanagement and a “lack of integrity,” the Economic Times reports.

The rare probe was set up by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and involves Sanjiv Arora’s activities as India’s consul general in Houston, the newspaper said, citing internal memos.

Arora was stationed there from 2008 to 2012, just ahead of coming to Doha.

Here, he oversees the 630,000-strong Indian expat community, Qatar’s largest demographic group.

Flag of India for illustrative purposes only.
Flag of India for illustrative purposes only.

The MEA has not responded to repeated requests for comment from Doha News.

And in an email, Arora has rejected the report, calling it a “hatchet job by someone who specializes in the evil art of witch-hunting.”

‘Systemic failure’

However, a 2014 Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) report does highlight “serious inaccuracies” in the accounting of receipts and withdrawals at the Houston consulate.

It stated that fictitious vouchers worth $372,632 and receipts worth $362,172 were submitted to the MEA.

The report added that “the matter needs urgent investigation by the appropriate authorities” and that as of May 2014, a reply was awaited from the MEA.

According to the Economic Times, the MEA sent a memo to Arora on March 22 pointing out a “total systemic failure” in how some accounts were handled in Houston.

It stated that he “signed routinely without exercising due diligence” and accepted accounts with “glaring errors and approved them for forwarding to MEA.”

Arora said he was unaware of these allegations, adding over email to Doha News:

“As a matter of propriety as well as in deference to Government rules, I consider it inappropriate to refer to any internal communication of the Government on any subject, whether speculative or otherwise.”

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