It is not all that 'Lalit' for Modi who faces 2 dozen cases

Thirty years ago on April 2, a young Indian student of Duke University was waiting to hear from a US court what turn his future would take. He was staring at a jail term for trafficking cocaine and assault. The 22-year-old Indian landed in police custody after he and his three friends went to buy cocaine for $ 10,000. The seller robbed them and did not give cocaine.

They   suspected a college mate set them up and beat him up. The friends did get five-year probation. But a year later in 1986, the Indian boy entered into a plea bargain and was allowed to travel to his homeland on condition that he would do 200 hours of community service.

That was Lalit Modi’s first brush with law. He came to India then to avoid further trouble in the US - he now stays away from India to evade law here. Modi, considered the architect of IPL, faces around two dozen investigations by agencies like Enforcement Directorate and Directorate of Revenue Intelligence. In many cases, notices have also been issued to ex-BCCI colleagues like N Srinivasan.

Modi’s trouble began as skeletons tumbled out before IPL’s third edition. Rivals in BCCI were looking for an opportunity. They found plenty to target him, as Modi was not a man of procedures. Modi ran IPL as his fiefdom. He took decisions that were given a blanket clearance by IPL Governing Council later in “good faith”.

The 52-year-old flew out of India on May 13, 2010, not to set his foot again in India as he got a feeling that he may end up in jail. Summons and show cause notices did reach him but his lawyers cited “elevated” security threats did not allow them to meet him in person. Several agreements were in question for violation of foreign exchange laws. An unofficial assessment showed that the cases run into a value of over Rs 2,000 crore.

Take the case of FEMA violations in IPL’s dealings with consultants IMG, payments to Cricket South Africa (CSA) for conducting 2009 IPL and performance deposits by bidders.
Modi and others were show caused by ED for doing forex business without RBI approval. Neither Modi nor others felt the need to take RBI approval. The IMG, engaged by Modi to help him in IPL management, was remitted Rs 88.48 crore without RBI approval.

In performance deposit case, the BCCI accepted Rs 20 crore from UK-based Emerging Media, which was part of Rajasthan Royals. As per law, one has to take RBI’s permission before accepting such deposits. After shifting IPL-2 to South Africa, transactions to the tune of Rs 243.45 crore were conducted with CSA by opening a dedicated bank account but not in the name of BCCI. For opening the account, according to the ED, IPL SA Pvt Ltd was created as a front.

Show cause notices

In all these cases, the ED has issued show cause notices to Modi, Srinivasan and others. Modi puts the blame on Srinivasan saying the latter played a key role, first as BCCI treasurer and later as secretary. However, cricket administrator Chirayu Amin said they approved Modi’s proposals in “good faith” as he had been “directly involved in concept of IPL”.

Another case that has become a Damocles’ sword for the former IPL czar is the Rs 425 crore IPL media rights deal with MSM-WSG.

Here, too, RBI approval was not sought in some transactions while Modi also faces an allegation that he pocketed $25 million out of $80 million paid by MSM to WSG to withdraw from telecast rights. Issuance of guarantees for foreign players, foreign exchange components in digital and website rights are also under the scanner.

The trouble does not end there for Modi, who is now planning to buy stakes in a UK football club.

His critics allege that Modi manipulated the bidding process for franchisees by asking selective bidders how much to bid for a particular franchise. Opponents point to the narrow difference in amounts between the winner and the loser in one of the cases to point fingers and prompt ED to look into it.

A private jet he bought through a company based in Cayman Island is under scanner of Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI). The latest to join this list is Modi’s Rs 11.63 crore investments in the company of Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s son Dushyant.

Five years have gone by after the irregularities have come to light. However, the probe is yet to reach its logical conclusions. After fresh revelations, the agencies are once again on a fast track mode as the Union government is facing flak. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance in December had lambasted agencies for not concluding even a single case. The government and agencies will have to show some result soon.

Quote Hanger

It appears she (Swaraj) has the tacit support of PM Modi for what she did .. the minister should be sacked from the Cabinet. One Modi is standing by another Modi.
Rahul Gandhi Congress V-P

Whatever she has done is right. We justify it & the government completely stands by her. Any person with humanitarian approach should do the same.
Rajnath Singh, Home Minister

Taking a humanitarian view, I conveyed to the British High Commissioner that ‘British Government should examine the request of Lalit Modi as per British rules and regulations. If the British Government chooses to give travel documents to Lalit Modi.
Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister

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