Bollywood’s IPL owners in trouble

The Indian Premier League (IPL) scandal that has rocked the cricketing and Indian political world is now fast spreading to Bollywood. It has been alleged that IPL commissioner Lalit Modi has hidden stakes in teams owned by Shah Rukh Khan (Kolkata Knight Riders), Preity Zinta (Kings XI Punjab) and Shilpa Shetty (Rajasthan Royals. And today (April 21) the Kolkata offices of Shah Rukh’s team were raided by income tax officials. The offices of the Cricket Association of Bengal were also raided.

Meanwhile, in Chandigarh, a court has summoned the promoters of Kings XI Punjab. Reportedly, the promoters have not shared details of their financial dealings and balance sheet with the Registrar of Companies.

While there has been no response from Shah Rukh on these developments, Preity had tweeted a few days ago, "Lalit Modi has ABSOLUTELY NO share in Kxip!" She had said earlier, "Media needs 2 b accountable 4 what comes out in press! Am shocked at some of d stories regarding KXIP! No gossip or rumour pls! only news!"

A probe into financial deals of the IPL was broad-based today with searches at offices of three of its event management and broadcast firms in Mumbai, even as the Enforcement Directorate (ED) registered a case to investigate foreign exchange violations by its franchisees.

Also, the income tax probe which started with the IPL Kochi franchise last Wednesday was widened with simultaneous searches in multiple cities.

The 10 franchisees under scrutiny are Kochi’s Rendezvous Sports, Pune’s Sahara group, Mumbai Indians, Delhi Daredevils, Kolkata Knight Riders, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Deccan Chargers, Chennai Super Kings, Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab.

Earlier in Mumbai, a team of over 50 officials of the Directorate of Income Tax Investigation started the search operations at the premises of Multi Screen Media, World Sports Group and Pat Magnarella Management in Bandra, Khar and Malad suburbs of north-west Mumbai in the morning.

Simultaneously, the ED Mumbai registered a case against "unknown persons" under the Foreign Exchange Management Act to probe unauthorized transfer of huge foreign funds without the permission of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

The ED move was prompted by information that huge funds have found their way into the IPL from international tax havens. It would inquire into the root of the IPL finances from dubious sources, officials said.

Earlier called Sony Entertainment Television, Multi Screen Media has the telecast rights for the IPL T20 cricketing extravaganza for 10 years from 2008, while World Sports Group acquired the global media rights for IPL for 10 years for over $1.5 billion.

Pat Magnarella Management is a full-service management, branding, and marketing services company, which in the past specialised in the music business and later made a foray into sports as well, officials said.

In New Delhi, another investigative wing of the finance ministry, the Directorate of Enforcement, registered a preliminary case against the IPL and its franchisees to probe possible violations of foreign exchange rules and regulations.

The case was registered under the provisions of the Foreign Exchange Management Act in a bid to help the directorate’s officers search the premises of suspected people, seize incriminating material and hold enquiries, officials said.

A probe by the tax department had first started with the Kochi franchise of IPL last Wednesday. A day after, officials from the income tax department visited various offices of the IPL in Mumbai and questioned its commissioner Lalit Modi.

Based on the documents collected, the tax probe was then extended to other cities as well, following which all the wings of the finance ministry were roped in for parallel investigations.

Finance ministry officials said their main concern was whether ill-gotten money stashed abroad was being brought back into the country, as also whether there was tax evasion by IPL and its franchisees.

The question of free equity to some directors of franchises is also being probed.(IANS)


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