The Committee of Administrators (CoA) is planning to seek Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) counsel over a suspected irregularity, possibly a FEMA (Foreign Exchange Management Act) violation, in the 2009 accounts of the now defunct Champions League T20 tournament. The move comes after BCCI’s finance department flagged the decade-old discrepancy of about Rs 2 crore in the Indian board’s financial dealing with Cricket Australia (CA).
According to those in the know the issue came to light after the BCCI books showed an outstanding amount of Rs 2.09 crore that CA was to pay. However, the Australia board, when approached by BCCI’s finance department, said that after the 2015 final settlement with the BCCI, their accounts were balanced and the CLT20 account books closed.
The CLT20, launched in 2008, in the Lalit Modi era, featured top domestic teams from around the world. If the IPL was inspired by the English Premier League, this was said to be cricket’s version of the UEFA Champions League. Back in the day, it was the most lucrative cricket tournament. But it got off to a bad start with the 2008 edition getting scrapped because of the Mumbai terror attacks. The tournament featured the top two IPL teams along with domestic T20 teams from Australia, South Africa, England, Pakistan, West Indies, New Zealand and Sri Lanka.
The broadcasting rights for the tournament, that had a prize money of $6 million, had gone for an unprecedented $975 million. This ambitious enterprise was jointly owned by the BCCI, CA and Cricket South Africa and the revenue shared between the three boards. Years later, one of the transactions between the BCCI and CA has come under the scanner.
Earlier this month, the CoA, during a meeting that was attended by a FEMA expert, had raised this issue with the BCCI office-bearers. The Indian board’s old guard, while expressing their reservations over the involvement of the RBI, had said that this was a mere technicality and could easily be rectified. They stressed that a “final settlement” had been reached and it was just a error in the account books. However, the CoA said they didn’t want to take any chances and wanted to consult RBI.
Last year in May, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had slapped a penalty of Rs 121 crore on the BCCI for an alleged FEMA violation when the IPL was moved to South Africa because of the 2009 general elections.
The next meeting in this regard is to be held later this week.