Lalit Modi questioned by Income Tax offcials over IPL deals

Lalit Modi was tonight questioned by Income Tax officials over the financial dealings and share holding patterns of IPL amid allegations and counter-allegations over the bidding process for franchisees.

Modi was first quizzed for over an hour from 1915 hours at Nirlon House in Worli area where his offices are located. A second team of I-T officials questioned him thereafter.

Official sources said the I-T team’s visit was part of a “source probe” that has been initiated by the Revenue Department to look into the financing aspects of the multi-crore IPL in the wake of the controversy over the funding of IPL Kochi, the new franchisee.

The I-T action comes in the wake of accusations questioning the funding and bidding process that governed all the teams after controversy erupted over the Kochi bid which involved union minister Shashi Tharoor.

IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi said the IT team’s visit was only an inquiry and not a raid and assured that the IPL will “fully cooperate” in the inquiry.

The I-T department has created a special cell in Mumbai to keep a tab on all income generated by the IPL, the sources said.

Modi was continuing to be questioned late in the night as a third team of I-T officials reached his office around 2300 hours.

Sources said the probe has been initiated to find out if there is any illegal flow of funds, involvement of underworld and betting syndicates and whether any black money in being pumped into the sporting extravaganza including from foreign shores.

Modi had divulged names of the Kochi franchise while alleging that Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor had asked him not to reveal the names of the promoters which included Sunanda Pushkar, a close friend of his.

Tharoor is alleged to have played a role in Sunanda getting free equity worth Rs 70 crore in IPL Kochi, a charge denied by the minister.

The probe move came as the CPI-M said the government should inquire into the source of certain funds flowing into the tournament and reconsider whether any tax exemptions or concessions are justified for this commercial enterprise.

“There is an inquiry. It is not a raid. The I-T officials are possibly looking for the details of the tender (for Kochi team). We will extend all possible cooperation to them,” Modi earlier told PTI.

Immediately after the I-T officials visited the offices of BCCI-IPL at Wankhede stadium here, Modi rushed to the headquarters to meet them. Thereafter Modi and I-T officials moved to Nirlon House.

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