It’s witch-hunt, I did nothing wrong: Lalit Modi

Last Updated: Nov 26, 2010, 09:38 AM IST

New Delhi: Putting up a stout defence, sacked BCCI administrator Lalit Modi on Thursday denied any wrongdoing during his role as IPL commissioner and called the charges against him as witch-hunt.

Modi said he did not rig any of the IPL bids, did not make money out of IPL and that BCCI was aware of all his actions.

Modi, in an interview to You Tube, said he actually spent from his own pocket during his tenure and never took any money from the Indian cricket Board for his job. Modi said he would return to India whenever he is convinced that he is safe in the country.

Modi said he was sorry that his tweets led to Shashi Tharoor’s sacking but did not regret tweeting. He said whetever he did during the Kochi bid process, he did it for the benefit of the investors.

Modi is facing charges of financial irregularities and is facing probe by Enforcement Directorate, BCCI Disciplinary Committee and the Chennai Police.

Modi said BCCI was aware about the entire bidding process including that some of his relatives were involved.

“When somebody turns around and says that they didn’t know about it- it’s absolutely a false story...I mean everybody concerned from the governing council to the BCCI members, were very much present in the room, and in fact everybody was just happy at that point in time because we got eight bids,” he said.

“In fact you had my Vice Chairman Niranjan Shah who was questioned immediately after the auction and said ‘Mr Modi’s relatives have bid’, he said ‘so what, there are no other bidders out there, and if he has bid he has put his own money in’, if it wasn’t friends and family that are coming to bid and come into, and believe in the product they wouldn’t have had the IPL in the first place,” he said.

Asked about all the charges he said, “What I did is absolutely by the book, what I and the rules that we made, and we went out and delivered what we had to do. Currently whatever is on is like a witch hunt and you know I’d rather not comment on it, this is something that you’ve got to ask the government why they’re doing it.”

Modi denied the allegations that he influenced the bid process as he wanted Adani Group and Videocon to win the franchisees for season-IV.

“How do you rig the process? It’s an open bid, it’s a tender process, you put the tender in, highest person wins, if that was the case why did Adani not win? Why did Videocon not win? Sahara went and won it for 370 million because it was an open process. Kochi went and won. If it was going to be a rigged process they (Adani and Videocon) would have won.”

Modi is though confident that he will come out clean.

“It’s going to end by me getting a clean slate.”

Explaining the Kochi row, which eventually cost Modi and Union minister Tharoor their jobs, he said,”For the first time I found that an agreement had been submitted by a party where they had a 25% sweat equity clause in there, and that clause, irrespective of the capitalisation was going to ask the other 75% shareholders to pay for losses over the next decade of decades......it’s business at the end of the day for them, and on Thursday you must support it for other various reasons, but sooner down the line it’s going to become business and your accountant’s going to tell you ‘guys you’re going to be bankrupt’ or ‘you’ve got to pump in more money.”

He said he never aimed to hurt Tharoor and it just happened.

Tharoor got embroiled in the controversy when it came to light that her close friend Sunanda Pushkar, with whom he married recently, had sweat equity in Kochi Franchisee and that the minister had interest in the franchisee.

“Well that wasn’t intended, it happened, it wasn’t intended to embarrass anybody. It was the intention of that to get the truth out there, it wasn’t intended to ridicule, embarrass a minister or the government.”

“I’m sorry that it happened, but at the end of the day you’ve got to understand that the events leading to Kochi are still sub judice. I wouldn’t like to at this point in time actually get into the nitty gritties and the details of what actually happened,” he said.

Modi also spoke about controversial IPL television rights deal with World Sports Group, due to which BCCI said it suffered loses to the tune of USD 80 million.

“When we went out to market the rights of IPL you’d be surprised there was one bidder, and that one bidder was World Sports Group. Sony actually bid and withdrew their bid prior to the bids even opening. ESPN bid, but they’d put zero number on the table so that their bid was disqualified.

“The only company that actually put any money on the table above the minimum guarantee amount was World Sports Group in the round one, and that’s and then they did a back to back licensing deal with Sony.”

“A marketing company’s job is to buy and sell rights, so if they bought a right that’s close to USD two billion as an example and they sold it for two billion eighty to somebody as an example, and they made USD 80 million over a ten year period, what’s wrong with that?”

Modi said instead BCCI made money with his idea, which proved to be superhit.

“I can very clearly tell you that I have not pocketed any money from the IPL. You’ve got to keep in mind I created something out of nothing. The BCCI had benefited, will benefit in the next ten years in excess of USD 2 billion which is never something that they have projected, to project that they were going to get, this is something of an initiative that I took on my own, as an honorary member... and I did not do it for myself, and the benefit 100% accrued to the BCCI.

Modi also defended his lavish lifestyle saying he managed his expenses on his own.

“All costs that are related to my staying in a hotel or travelling or cars, are all mine, you know, BCCI may have provided a car here or there in a particular city, but they all charge it back to me.

“I fly on my own accord, I stay in hotels on my own cost, I run the IPL on my own time, I have people working in the IPL that are my personal staff which I pay for, and that is my contribution, in fact I’m paying for it, not somebody else.”

Modi said he is cooperating with investigating agencies and will return to India when he feels it is safe for him.

“We have provided every piece of document that is needed by the enforcement directorate, all I’ve said it because of security issues I do not want to take the risk, for me security is a very important issue, the security of me and my family is extremely important,” he said.

PTI