At the centre of a controversy over his links to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, former IPL chief Lalit Modi on Monday posted online a trove of documents mainly related to charges leveled against him by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
The documents, running into thousands of pages, were posted on Modi’s website lalitmodi.com and had one common theme: ED should seek answers from the top BCCI office-bearers of the time — primarily secretary N Srinivasan and treasurer M P Pandove — for the charges that relate to financial transactions conducted by the cricket board when Modi was IPL chief from 2008-2010.
In one reply to an ED notice, Modi stated: “The allegations reflect collective responsibilities rather than personal responsibilities.”
The documents were categorised under six heads: Enforcement Directorate Matters; BCCI; Directorate of Revenue Intelligence; Enforcement Directorate; Income Tax; and Passport Office.
Calling the allegations against Modi as “unsubstantiated”, an introductory note stated: “This section presents an opportunity, for you to see first hand and for the first time, the formal questions and claims put to Lalit Modi by various authorities and, in the spirit of transparency and integrity, his formal answers and rebuttals.”
For instance, on a notice issued for suspected FEMA violations in remittances made by BCCI to International Management Group UK Ltd towards consultancy fees for IPL from 2008 to 2010, Modi’s lawyers replied that there are “no personal allegations” against him.
They cited a threat to his life as the reason for him not appearing before the ED, adding that the agency has not responded to Modi’s offer of communicating through a video link or at the Indian High Commission in UK.
“All activities of IPL are acts that have documented approval from collective Governing Council of Working Committee Meetings in accordance with BCCI/IPL process,” the reply stated. Modi was the chairman of the council before he was sacked by the BCCI in 2010, after which he moved to London.
In the reply, Modi claimed that rather than causing loss of foreign exchange, he “has been single-handedly responsible for earning huge foreign exchange for the country,” by bringing contracts worth US$ 6 billion to the BCCI kitty, making it the most powerful board in world cricket.
Remittance of Rs.88.48 crore was made to IMG by BCCI, and “each and every element of the remittance was made by either Shri N Srinivasan or Shri M P Pandove, BCCI Treasurer. All these facts are well document and capable of being easily verified,” the reply stated.
In response to a notice for alleged FEMA violations in foreign exchange guarantees issued by BCCI to foreign players without prior approval of the RBI, Modi’s reply was that adjudication proceedings were essentially directed against the cricket board.
The “alleged infringement of not obtaining prior approval from the BCCI is also technical in nature and there are numerous instances where ex post facto approval is given by RBI,” his reply stated.
On alleged FEMA contraventions by BCCI in making a payment of about Rs 243 crore to Cricket South Africa for conducting the IPL there in 2009 without prior permission of the RBI, Modi’s lawyers have replied that the agreement was executed by Srinivasan, and all remittances authorised by the BCCI treasurer.
“Any contravention of any regulations under FEMA, if any, would have been done by Secretary BCCI as he alone is authorised by BCCI under its constitution to file all necessary papers, seek all statutory and regulatory approvals, as also open any accounts etc under his signature,” the reply stated.
When contacted, ED Special Director, Western Region, Sajjad Naqvi told The Indian Express: “What he (Modi) has put up on his website will have absolutely no bearing on our investigations and adjudication proceedings. Why should we take cognisance of it? We will deal with his constituted attorneys in India.”
The documents in the BCCI category include a summary of a confidential meeting between BCCI and Sony on IPL media rights; summons issued to Modi by DRI and I-T officials; and documents related to the withdrawal of his passport.
London-based Modi’s case hit the headlines last Sunday after it emerged that Sushma Swaraj had helped him obtain travel papers to visit Portugal last year, when his passport had been revoked.
Raje’s links to Modi came under the scanner after his lawyer released an unsigned “witness statement” purported to have been written by the CM, when she was the opposition leader, in favour of the former IPL chief. Soon, financial links between Modi and Raje’s son Dushyant Singh also came to light.