The government on Wednesday stepped up efforts to get to the bottom of alleged financial irregularities in the Indian Premier League (IPL),with officials from the income tax department visiting the Mumbai offices of World Sports Group (WSG) and Multi Screen Media (MSM) in Mumbai. WSG holds all audio and video rights for IPL,while MSM is the broadcast-rights holder. Media reports had said that MSM had paid a facilitation fee of $80 million to WSG to secure the rights.
A similar exercise was undertaken later in the day,when tax officials visited the offices of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in Kolkata and India Cements in Chennai,the two IPL franchise teams. Tax officials have already visited IPL headquarters in Mumbai and made enquiries with the IPL teams of Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab.
Officials said that as part of the probe,offices of all IPL teams would be visited in a day or two. The day also saw IPL commissioner Lalit Modiwho is under pressure to step downquestioning the legality of the governing council meeting slated for April 26. A defiant Modi said that he alone had the powers to convene the council meeting,which he wanted to be held on May 1. However,the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is going ahead with the scheduled meeting.
Cricketers who played in IPL in the last three years may not be spared scrutiny either. Sources said that the IPL franchise teams had been asked to hand over details of payments made to cricketers of all the teams who have played in the three IPL editions. The payments include money paid to the players for the match as well as for the post-match parties. The IT department has also asked the franchise teams to provide the details of money paid to the cheerleaders as well as commentators.
All IPL franchise teams are facing probes by the various departments of the finance ministry and the Registrar of Companies (RoC).
As earlier reported,the RoC has already sought ownership pattern and other details from all the franchises.
In Kolkata,the officials from the income-tax department and the enforcement directorate visited the offices of Shah Rukh Khan-Juhi Chawla-promoted Red Chillies Entertainment at the Eden Gardens ,who are the promoters of KKR. I-T officials also landed up at the office of sports marketing agency Gameplan in Kolkata on Wednesday. Gameplan is a sports management group which looks after KKRs affairs.
In Chennai,I-T officials visited the office of India Cements,the owner of Chennai Superkings. The countrywide probe began after reports of financial irregularities surfaced in the bidding process of Kochi IPL team and the Shashi Tharoor-Lalit Modi spat over sweat equity granted to Sunanda Pushkar by Kochi franchise owners. Earlier this week,finance minister Pranab Mukherjee had assured the Lok Sabha that a thorough probe will be conducted into all aspects of IPL. The ongoing I-T actions are believed to be part of this enquiry. On Tuesday,I-T officials had visited the Kings XI Punjab office.
Summons have already been issued to the BCCI by I-T authorities to furnish all details of all the eight original IPL franchises. I-T authorities are investigating the entire IPL structure,which has become a huge revenue-earning entity for the BCCI,since its inception in 2008.