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Letters rogatory: Enforcement Directorate goes to Singapore on ex-IPL boss Lalit Modi’s trail

LR sent under money laundering law; fresh request could be sent to London.

Written by Appu Esthose Suresh | New Delhi |
Updated: June 30, 2015 1:16:39 pm
Lalit Modi, Lalit Modi row, Kochi franchise, ipl Kochi franchise, sushma swaraj, sushma storm, Lalit Modi controversy, former ipl chief Lalit Modi, modi ipl controversy, india news, nation news Lalit Modi had continued to stay in UK despite the Indian government revoking his passport in 2010.

In the first major step against former IPL chief Lalit Modi since the controversy involving External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje broke out, the government Monday sent Enforcement Directorate officials to Singapore to expedite the letter rogatory (LR) the agency sent to the country earlier in the day.

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This follows two years of inaction by the ED, which did not send a revised LR as demanded by the United Kingdom in 2013, where Modi has continued to stay despite the Indian government revoking his passport in 2010. The amended LR is now set to be sent this week.

On Monday, the ED sent two LRs — a request for assistance from an Indian court to a foreign court through the External Affairs Ministry — to Singapore and Mauritius under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

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These pertain to the ED’s investigation into a deal between Sony’s Singapore-based subsidiary Multi Screen Media (MSM) and World Sports Group (WSG), signed by Modi in March 2009. In the LR, the ED has asked for the banking transactions of both MSM and WSG to investigate their links with Modi.

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MSM was given Rs 470 crore media rights for the IPL in 2009 and Modi allegedly entered into a back-end agreement with Sony to ensure a Rs 125 crore payment to the little-known WSG, which had been awarded a contract by him earlier. The BCCI, which was made a guarantor to the agreement, was allegedly kept in the dark about it by Modi.

An investigation under the PMLA could provide grounds for a Red Corner Interpol notice for extradition against Modi.

In February 2015, the ED had issued a showcause against Modi under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) for not taking prior permission from the Reserve Bank of India before standing guarantee for Sony’s subsidiary MSM in case of a payment default to WSG.

In this notice, issued against the BCCI, Modi has been charged with heading the negotiation and being the signatory to the deal. But since FEMA is a civil offence, it cannot become a predicate offense for extradition under international norms.

The ED had started investigations into the alleged Rs 470-crore foreign exchange violations after Modi’s ouster from the BCCI. He is accused of signing a “sham” contract with WSG in 2009, when he was in-charge of IPL.

The ED’s investigation against Modi under the PMLA is based on a complaint filed by former BCCI head N Srinivasan in October 2010, following a showcause notice issued by the BCCI to Modi.

In Srinivasan’s complaint to the police, which draws its content from the BCCI notice, it is alleged that “this agreement was never placed before the governing council of the IPL, nor the working committee of the BCCI, and to our shock we find that all along you (Modi) have not only been aware of payment of a commission of several crore to WSG Mauritius but also have made the BCCI practically guarantee that such payment is made”.

Since 2010, neither the ED nor the Chennai police made any progress on Srinivasan’s complaint, except for summons from the Chennai police which Modi refused to heed.

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