IT quizzes Modi on IPL franchise; Modi claims no wrong

IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi faced queries from Income Tax officials till early Friday morning and he claimed that the officials had gone back 'satisfied'.

updated: April 16, 2010 09:25 IST
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IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi faced queries from Income Tax officials till early Friday morning on the ownership of franchises, but he claimed that everything was found in order and IT team had gone back "satisfied".

IT teams reached IPL premises at BCCI and offices of Modi, who was involved in a public spat with Minister of state for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor for divulging the names of Kochi team, on Thursday evening and were looking at record till Friday morning.

While no official comments could be obtained from IT authorities about the inquiry they launched into ownership of the different teams, including two that were given for a total of over Rs 3200 crore, Modi said, "They have taken details and have gone back satisfied."

"They did not know the bidding procedure and asked me about it. They also sought the names of bidders and final documents of successful bids for the Kochi and Pune teams. We have complied with all the information."

Asked if he was quizzed for 7-8 hours, as IT teams left his premises only after 0300 hours on Friday morning, Modi said, "No they questioned me only for 15-20 minutes and they wanted papers relating to two teams. It took time to collect these from two to three different places."

"They took the photocopies and expressed satisfaction over the entire (bidding) process. We are open to scrutiny by any agency as we have done no wrong and were are totally transparent."

Income Tax officials visited the Indian Premier League headquarters at Wankhede Stadium as also Modi's office at Nirlon House in upmarket Worli, where they sought information and asked questions from Modi between 7.15 pm on Thursday and 3.20 am on Friday.

After the tax sleuths left, Modi told reporters, "They (the officials) were given documentation details, they verified the documents and went through the entire process of bidding. We fully cooperated with them and provided them with all they required."

Modi had kicked off a row by revealing the names of the owners of Rendezvous Sports, including Sunanda Pushkar, a close friend of Tharoor, saying that Minister was pressuring him not to divulge the names.

Agriculture Minister and former BCCI chief Sharad Pawar had come out in support of Modi on Thursday evening, saying IPL and its Commissioner were well within their rights to seek details about owners.

Modi said that IT officials had asked him a few printed questions about him and relating to the names of bidders and the procedures.

"When they asked me about other teams (eight franchisee that were bid for three years ago), I told them that information is in public domain. Thereafter they did not press for any further information. I also assured to part with every information about the teams if needed", he said.

According to I-T sources, the agency, apart from probing the sources bankrolling the cash-flush league, is looking into whether ill-gotten money stashed away in tax havens like Mauritius has made its way into the IPL.

The IPL chief rubbished media reports that his laptop was seized and unaccounted cash recovered from his office. "99 per cent of stories being put out by the media are untrue."

Modi has been fighting a controversy ever since divulging the name of Sunanda, who was given free of cost 18 percent of the 25 per cent stake held by Rendezvous Sports in the Kochi team in lieu of her contribution for project and marketing efforts.

Sunanda, a businesswoman based in Dubai, said earlier this week that it was sweat equity and she was yet to get it. "It is still on papers only."

She had also debunked reports that the equity valued at about Rs 70 crore was for fronting for Tharoor and said that she had been trying to associate with IPL since last year for which she had presented a branding and marketing concept to Shahrukh Khan owned Kolkata Knight Riders.

Khan's associate Karim Morani, who had discussed the concept with Sunanda, later said that the discussions were on for the second season of IPL but no progress could be made after the event was shifted to South Africa last year.