The image currently being painted of Lalit Modi as a one-man violator of laws is a fake.

A basic reading of the Enforcement Directorate notices that Lalit has posted on his website prima facie indicts a whole host of people from within and without the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) for violating the Foreign Exchange Management Act (Fema).

One name that comes up repeatedly is former BCCI President N Srinivasan, who is Lalit’s bete noire. But while Lalit was banished from the board and fled to London, Srinivasan rose to become BCCI president before the Supreme Court stepped in last year and said he couldn’t be president and own an IPL team too due to conflicts of interest (which was obvious to everyone but Srinivasan and the BCCI).

Lalit Modi is being unfairly singled out. Getty SportsLalit Modi is being unfairly singled out. Getty Sports

Lalit Modi is being unfairly singled out. Getty Sports

Another name that pops up more than once is that of Sundar Raman, who was the IPL’s chief operating officer under Lalit, and continued to be so under Srinivasan. He still continues in that role.

The most strident charge against Lalit involves the BCCI, Multi-Screen Media (MSM), the World Sport Group (WSG) and the rights to the IPL. This is the case that features in the so-called facilitation fee of Rs 425 crore that MSM paid WSG to acquire the rights to IPL for the Indian subcontinent from 2009 to 2017.

Srinivasan claimed that Lalit hid the details of the deal from the board, but the ED found otherwise. It states clearly in its notice dated 19 January, 2015, that aside from Lalit, Srinivasan and Sundar Raman were acquainted with the details of the “Deed for provision of Facilitation Services”.

“Shri N Srinivasan, Lalit Kumar Modi, Paul Manning [of IMG] and Sundar Raman were in-charge of and responsible to the BCCI for the conduct of its business pertaining to the said transaction,” and thereby contravened the abovesaid provisions of Section 3(d) of FEMA, 1999 and rendered themselves liable to be proceeded under Section 13 of Fema, 1999”, the report states.

The list of names doesn’t end there either. Others the ED consider to be in violation of the act include NP Singh and Man Jit Singh, the current CEO and non-executive chairman of MSM respectively, as well as WSG CEO Andrew Georgiou and Venu Nair, their South Asia head.

Their organisations – the BCCI, The World Sport Group (Mauritius) and MSM Satellite (Singapore) – don’t escape censure either. They all “appear to have contravened the provisions of section 3(d) of Fema, 1999, and thereby rendered themselves liable to be proceeded under Section 13 of Fema, 1999,” says the report.

The issue is further complicated because MSM filed a case in the Bombay High Court against WSG in 2010 to recover the money paid to them (Rs 125 crore of Rs 425 crore), but the Indian Supreme Court ruled in January 2014 that the dispute should be handled by arbitration in Singapore, which is what the contract between the two parties calls for.

If the arbitrator rules that the fee was a legitimate business transaction, then the BCCI’s case against Lalit would collapse like a stack of matches in a blizzard.

Yet somehow nobody is talking about all this.

Another example is the charge that the BCCI transferred foreign exchange illegally to South Africa in 2009, when the IPL was moved out of India. The notice finds fault with the BCCI, then president Shashank Manohar, Srinivasan, Sundar Raman, then chief administrative officer Ratnakar Shetty, MP Pandove, the treasurer at the time, Prasanna Kannan, an India Cements employee who was working for Raman, and Nazeer Khan, the chief manager of the Jaipur Branch of the State Bank of Travancore, which conducted the transaction.

This is in addition to indicting the BCCI and the State Bank. That’s a whole lot of people who are going unnoticed for the same crimes that Lalit is supposed to have committed.

The BCCI may cry itself hoarse about how Lalit pulled the wool over its eyes but that is actually the BCCI trying to obfuscate the issue. The truth of the matter is probably that the BCCI was happy to endorse whatever Lalit was doing until the other power brokers in the board decided he was getting too big and had to fail.

If Lalit Modi is guilt of any of these violations, at the very least so is the BCCI, Srinivasan, Sundar Raman and a host of others. This witch hunt of one man ought to end. The only purpose it serves is disguise the real state of affairs.

Continued: 

Not just Lalit Modi: BCCI, Srinivasan, Sundar Raman are ED targets too