IPL in trouble, I-T extends probe to all teams

Investigating officers of I-T department extended their probe to other IPL teams.

Updated: Apr 17, 2010, 09:07 AM IST

Zeecric Bureau

New Delhi: After a visit to the Mumbai office of Indian Premier League (IPL), the Income Tax administration proposes similar investigation into other cities` teams as well to ascertain the source of funds of various franchises, officials here said on Friday.

"This will be an ongoing process. We may be conducting investigations in other cities as well. But let me also add: these are not raids, but document-based investigation," a top official in the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) told IANS in the national capital.

Investigating officers of I-T department also probed IPL Kochi headquarters and Kings XI Punjab offices in Mohali. The teams have reportedly seized three hard disks which would provide complete details of conversation between the IPL management and bidders, Zee News has learned.

Since Thursday evening, officials of the Income Tax department not only examined various documents and records at the office of IPL, but also questioned its commissioner Lalit K. Modi.

The operation, described as a routine inquiry, went on till the early hours of Friday.

According to top officials here, the operation in Mumbai was primarily to establish that the source of money involved in the cricketing extravaganza was "clean" with no loss to the exchequer on account of evasion.

Modi may further be questioned in the matter, they added.
The tax administration had already started a specific probe into the Kochi franchise of IPL, embroiled in a major controversy over the ownership issue, to ascertain if its money had been channelled illegally from tax havens abroad.

The tax probe followed a political row in since last week after allegations that Sunanda Pushkar, a shareholder in the Kochi IPL franchise and a friend of Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor, received free equity in it.

Officials said their main concern was, however, was black money abroad and tax evasion. They added that just as they try to prevent such ill-gotten funds from going out the country, they also try to probe if it is channelled back into the country illegally.

The franchise for the Kochi team, which will play from the fourth edition of the IPL Twenty-20 cricket extravaganza, was won in an auction last month by a firm called Rendezvous Sports for over $330 million.

Along with Subroto Roy`s Sahara group, which bagged the franchise for the Pune team, the second of the two new teams, the Kochi team is scheduled to join eight other teams from the next edition of the cricket tournament.

These are: Mumbai Indians, Delhi Daredevils, Kolkata Knight Riders, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Deccan Chargers, Chennai Super Kings, Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab.

Modi has so far maintained that there was a question mark over the ownership of the the Kochi IPL franchise since the owners themselves did not know some of the people involved with it.

"With regards to the eight franchisees, we know about all the stakeholders. But there are still some doubts over the ownership of the Kochi franchise. Even the people who signed the tender documents don"t know who they are," Modi had said.

-IANS inputs