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Govt orders IPL probe
Published on 20 Apr. 2010 1:14 AM IST
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Parliament resumed its normal business Monday after days of turmoil over the IPL row that led to the resignation of Shashi Tharoor from the government, but the opposition demanded a thorough probe into the alleged money laundering in the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL),
Following vocal demands from the opposition Left and other parties, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said the government has ordered parallel probes by virtually all its economic intelligence units to determine the source and use of funds by franchises of the IPL and unearth possible tax evasions and flouting of rules. “I can assure you that all aspects of IPL will be probed, inclusive of the sources of funding, how the funds were routed and invested,” Mukhererjee told the Lok Sabha.
The announcement came a day after Tharoor stepped down following allegations that he had misused his position to benefit his friend Dubai-based Sunanda Pushkar in the Kochi IPL franchise. Corporate Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid also hinted at independent investigations by regulators attached with his ministry but ruled out suo motu action on the possible violations of the Companies Act by IPL and its franchisees.
“Why should there be any suo motu action from the ministry? There are regulators for everything. If they refer something to us, then we will look at it,” Khurshid told reporters here Monday.
“We look only at filings and the appropriate dates of filing. If we find any deficiency, then we take action,” he said. “If there are violations, these are to be judged by the Registrar of Companies, since they are the ones who monitor companies.”
A probe by the tax department had already first started with the Kochi franchise of IPL last Wednesday after a political row over allegations that Tharoor’s friend, Sunanda Pushkar, had received sweat (free) equity from a company.
Opposition MPs had demanded his sacking and threatened to stall parliament on the issue, which could have delayed a debate on the crucial financial bill and a vote on the budget.
The opposition alleged that Tharoor, who stepped down as minister of state for external affairs Sunday, was a proxy for Pushkar, who received sweat equity worth Rs.70 crore in the new IPL Kochi team - a charge both denied. Tharoor’s resignation silenced the opposition in targeting the Congress, but on Monday their call to ban the IPL cricket tournament grew louder. Some MPs termed the IPL as “gambling” in the name of cricket and alleged that black money stashed in foreign banks was invested in the IPL. Communist Party of India (CPI) MP Gurudas Dasgupta said the matter did not stop with Tharoor resigning. “We have not gone into the roots of IPL. The issue is laundering of money. “
Stressing that the shorter Twenty20 version of cricket was not in the interest of the sports, Dasgupta said: “Black money is coming from Mauritius and Dubai through dubious sources and betting is going on openly… It is only a game of gamble, an organised gamble.”
The CPI leader also called for a joint parliamentary panel to probe the source of IPL funding. Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad said the opposition wasn’t targeting Tharoor but had demanded that “murky IPL business of shame and glamour” be probed to know where the money comes from and where it goes.
“This is a gambling and betting business. There are bigwigs involved. The entire network should be probed,” Lalu Prasad said. Lalu Prasad alleged that a top IPL official has purchased a jet and has huge wealth.
SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav said the “foreign sport” was being wrongly promoted in the country at the cost of national games. Janata Dal-United president Sharad Yadav raised the same demand. The finance minister then assured the house that that “no guilty or wrong-doer will be spared”.
House proceedings went off smoothly Monday - Question Hour was held without any disruption, as was Zero Hour and business papers were also laid in the house.

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