In 2009 the International Cricket Council (ICC) raised concerns over the Indian Premier League (IPL) and match fixing. The ICC offered the services of it’s Anti Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) to police the event, but the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), on the advice of IPL commissioner, Lalit Modi, declined the offer due to the price tag. Despite raking in millions of dollars, the BCCI claimed it could not afford it.
The fee – $1.2M, compared to the BCCI’s reported profit from the first IPL – $10M would seem like a small price to pay in order to deter corruption and match fixing, right?
Amidst mounting criticism the BCCI finally agreed to having the ACSU in last year’s IPL in South Africa, but the approval came just the day before the start of the event making it impossible for the ACSU to prepare. As a result, the ACSU did not officially monitor the event in 2009.
This year, however, the ACSU is said to have policed the event, but it wasn’t the ACSU that has uncovered corruption, but India’s tax department.
According to Paul Newman from The Daily Mail, Indian Tax officials claim that ‘the match-fixing and betting racket has scaled a new height’.
It is alleged 27 players, including one highprofile Australian, were involved in ‘spot fixing’ or match manipulation during last year’s IPL in South Africa.
Modi turned down the chance to use the ICC’s anti-corruption unit to police that tournament, preferring instead to make his own arrangements.
If one recalls, It was in South Africa in 2009 that the IPL introduced a competition via SMS that was widely considered to be betting. Indian Sports Minister, Manohar Singh Gill lashed out at the SMS game saying it was unsuitable in India, a country where gambling is illegal and that it could lead to corruption in the game.
The spot fixing allegations came as the BCCI announced that Lalit Modi, the commissioner of the IPL, the man in charge behind every aspect of the tournament, had been suspended over allegations of corruption and money laundering.
Spot fixing is different from match fixing. The key difference being that in match fixing the end result of the match is crucial, but spot fixing requires subtle manipulation of the game, taking corruption to a whole new level.
For example, against a batsman as gifted as Sachin Tendulkar one needs to only avoid bowling short at Tendulkar’s rib cage or head region to ensure the batsman is comfortable enough to make a substantial score. This year the teams played each other twice in the group stage, the commitment by a player or a captain playing against the Mumbai Indians would be for just two matches out of a total of 14. The captain’s role too is key in all this. Without appropriate field placings, the bowlers are unable to hit that short of a length and test out a batsman who has a well known weakness against short bowling; the bowler doesn’t necessarily need to be in on it.
It is a new form of manipulation that the ACSU will find hard to identify in a league such as the IPL. When top officials like Lalit Modi are themselves corrupt, then bookies no longer need to approach players, the corrupt officials already have unfettered access to them.
In all reality how much can an outside organisation like the ACSU do to prevent Modi from approaching team captains and players? With the IPL paying these sportsmen more money than they have ever made before, can you count on players to bring corruption to light? No one wants to lose out on a lucrative contract? It is perhaps the reason why allegations have not yet surfaced from those who have been offered a bribe and declined it. But now with Modi’s fall imminent and most contracts up for renewal next year, there is a possibility that those with a conscience, those who declined bribes, may come forward with information.
Besides match fixing allegations, Lalit Modi’s unscrupulous tactics ensured his friends and family had a strong stake in various departments of the IPL. It has brought to light the IPL Commissioner’s modus operandi.
As E Jayakrishnan of India Syndicate points out, those close to Modi have benefited directly from his position as Commissioner,
The IPL supremo’s brother-in-law Suresh Chellaram, is known to have a whopping 44.1 per cent stake in the Rajasthan Royals. His son-in-law Gaurav Burman is a prime mover and one of the directors of Global Cricket Ventures (GVC), the global digital and mobile right holders for IPL until 2017. GVC was only set up last year and has in the recent times grabbed major cricket-related digital rights.
NDTV takes it further with more evidence of Modi’s friends and family securing lucrative tenders and contracts which would only mean that the bidding process was neither transparent, nor fair,
There are three IPL teams that are directly connected to Modi because their owners include his family members and friends-the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), the Rajasthan Royals (RR), and Punjab Kings XI. All three teams, coincidentally, have actors on board – Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla for KKR; Shilpa Shetty for Rajasthan Royals and Preity Zinta for Kings XI Punjab. Modi allegedly sold 60 per cent of the stake in these teams to the official owners, and 40 per cent to benami owners or entities who served as "fronts". From this latter category, half of the stake was reserved for Modi and his associates; the other half was allotted to either politicians or businessmen. In all three teams involved, the 40 per cent benami holdings were traced to companies in tax havens like Mauritius and the Caymen Islands.
If you thought all this sounded bad, listen to this from the Hindustan Times:
The official websites of both the IPL and its elite international version — the Champions League T20 — have either “Lalit” or “Lalit Modi” registered as the administrative and even technical contacts. In both cases, there is no mention of either the BCCI or the IPL.
In every case, the email contact is firstname.lastname@example.org. Modi.com is owned by Modi Enterprises, the company run by Lalit Modi’s industrialist family. The contact address is 3rd floor, Nirlon House, Dr A B Road, Worli.
Websites that could potentially be used by the BCCI, like bcciratings.com and BCCI TV (championsleague2020.in), are also registered in the same fashion.
Furthermore, the television production team (IMG) which gave Lalit Modi considerable air time, at times focusing their cameras on Modi after every boundary, also had ties with Modi. They worked with him back in 2006, two years before the IPL.
When the BCCI wanted replace IMG, Modi used his connections within the IPL franchises as mouthpieces to protest the removal. N Srinivasan, the BCCI secretary, claimed that IMG was being paid far too much for the service they offered. All franchise owners, with the exception of Chennai, wrote strongly worded letters to the BCCI in support of IMG. Those who knew better immediately recognised the protest by the franchise owners as Modi’s doing.
Was Modi making a buck on the side from his pals at IMG?
Despite the franchisees blind support for Modi, it now appears that even they may have been duped. The valuation of franchises appears incorrect. Some franchises are currently valued at $400M even though they will be running at losses for the next 10 years.
Modi also made many enemies when he destroyed the careers of cricketers involved in the rival Indian Cricket League (ICL). Players faced bans and suspensions for competing in the ICL as the BCCI went on a witch hunt on Modi’s command. Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) operating under BCCI orders even barred retired cricketers such as Arnold and Atapattu from taking on commentary duties due to their involvement with the ICL. Similarly, Indian legend Kapil Dev’s pension was also revoked by the BCCI.
In October of 2008, by flashing cash in their faces, Modi convinced the Sri Lankans to cancel an international Test tour to England because it clashed with the 2009 IPL. That despite IPL contracts clearly stating that national commitments came before the IPL. Other teams such as Australia and New Zealand have chosen to play for their country this year and arrived at the IPL only after their national commitments ended. But in Sri Lanka, the Preident of the Sri Lankan Players Association along with Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakakra all revolted against SLC’s decision to schedule a Test tour to England. Through the whole fiasco Modi’s people (BCCI) kept in constant contact with the Sri Lankan players and their sports agents offering more money to the players and the bankrupt SLC, eventually buying them all over.
"In return for committing its centrally contracted players to play in both the IPL and the Champions League for the next 10 years, SLC would receive $70m from the BCCI. The BCCI has also offered to include Sri Lanka in two tri-series in 2009 and 2010 as an extra financial incentive," The Guardian reported when SLC announced it had sold out to Lalit Modi & Co.
It is unclear if SLC or the players have actually been paid their bribes for boycotting the Test tour for an Indian domestic T20 competition.
When he wasn’t bribing folks, destroying livelihoods, or scamming the system he was flying on a private jet for which he forked out $10M Indian Rupees (225,515.63 USD) from his own pocket in a span of two months. He was burning large sums of money which backs the speculation that he benefited financially from the IPL.
The question then begs to be asked, how was a man with a criminal record in the United States, convicted of assault, kidnapping and the possession of 400g of Cocaine allowed such a position of authority? They are not charges to be taken lightly; the possession of 400g of Cocaine is a first degree felony. With that kind of a criminal record Modi would likely be denied even a customer service job in the US.
In 2007 Modi’s appointment as a BCCI official was challenged in court citing his criminal record. The Mumbai High Court then recommended that the BCCI implement stringent regulatory measures to prevent those with a criminal record from obtaining positions of authority. Nothing came of the recommendation. It only took three years since the court’s recommendation for Lalit Modi to prove to us that a tiger never changes it’s stripes.