‘ED mix-up delays Lalit Modi probe by a year’

Aug 01, 2016 09:37 AM IST

MUMBAI: A money-laundering probe against IPL founder Lalit Modi has been stuck for a year as the Enforcement Directorate (ED) sought wrong information from Singapore, sources have said.

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In a letter rogatory (LR) to Singapore, ED wanted information that only Mauritius could have provided, said sources in the agency that tracks money laundering and investigates foreign exchange violations.

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Agency officials declined to comment on the mix-up.

The letters were issued in July 2015 by a special court set up under the prevention of money laundering act (PMLA) to probe the allegations that former Indian Premier League chairman, who now lives in England, laundered Rs 425 crore in an IPL TV rights’ deal.

The letter was returned by the authorities in Singapore, who in an October 8 letter told ED that the details it sought could only be provided by Mauritius, sources said. ED was forced to go back to the special court for another letter rogatory, a formal request from an Indian court to a foreign court for judicial assistance. A fresh letter was issued on July 27.

The case dates back to 2008 when the Board of Control for Cricket in India awarded media rights of IPL for 10 years to World Sports Group (WSG) for $918 million.

WSG entered into a deal with Multi Screen Media (Singapore) Ltd to make Sony the official broadcaster. The contract was replaced a year later with a nine-year deal where MSM paid $1.63 billion.

It is alleged that Modi, who was then the IPL chief, terminated the contract with MSM, alleging several breaches. Later, a fresh agreement was signed with WSG.

In 2009, ED launched a probe under the foreign exchange management act to ascertain if Rs 425 crore paid as facilitation fee by MSM Singapore to WSG Mauritius was done illegally. A year later the BCCI filed an FIR in the case in Chennai. In 2012, the ED opened a money-laundering probe against the controversial businessman-cricket administrator, who was the IPL chief from 2008 to 2010 before being sacked by BCCI.

While seeking LR in July 2015, ED told the PMLA court the documents needed to probe the alleged violation were with the two companies in Singapore and Mauritius.

The agency sought information about bank accounts, properties owned by the companies and other financial details. It was after Singapore returned the LR that ED realised its mistake, sources said.

It took another eight months for the agency to approach the court for a revised letter.

While issuing the new letter, the court said as the LRs to Singapore and Mauritius were issued during the same period, it was likely there was a mix up as was evident from the questions raised by Singaporean authorities.

The status of the request to Mauritius is not known.

Lalit Modi is wanted in several cases of corruption. The special court earlier in March allowed the ED to initiate extradition proceedings against him but external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said in June the government was yet to send the request to the UK.

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