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Income Tax raids on offices of IPL franchisees

Last updated on: April 21, 2010 20:09 IST

In nation-wide raids on Wednesday, Income Tax sleuths swooped down on offices of Indian Premier League franchisees Kolkata Knight Riders, Chennai Super Kings, Deccan Chargers and Kings XI, and companies handling broadcast rights of the cash-rich cricket League.

Income Tax authorities broad-based its probe into the alleged financial irregularities in the Indian Premier League surveying offices and looking into documents in tandem with the Enforcement Directorate(ED) investigating the routing of funds from tax havens into the three-year-old league. The surveys are continuing.

The searches signalled a tense build-up to the expected showdown between embattled IPL chief Lalit Modi, who is under pressure to resign, and his detractors in the Board of Control for Cricket in India ahead of the April 26 meeting of the IPL's Governing Council.

Summons were issued to the BCCI by the Income Tax authorities to furnish complete details of all eight original IPL franchisees.

The ED registered a case against the IPL -- the first -- under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) to inquire into unauthorised transfer of foreign funds, Directorate sources said.

In Kolkata, a seven-member team of Tax officials surveyed the offices of Bollywood star Sharukh Khan's Kolkata Knight Riders and Cricket Association of Bengal.

There were simultaneous searches on the offices of the Red Chillies Entertainment, which owns KKR, at the Eden Gardens, and then on Gameplan, a sports management group, which looks after KKR's affairs on Shakespeare Sarani.

In Chennai, Tax sleuths surveyed the office of CSK -- owned by India Cements. BCCI secretary N Srinivasan is the Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of India Cements.

In Secunderabad, an IT team visited the office premises of Deccan Chargers Sporting Ventures limited.

"Our investigation team was there in the Deccan Chargers office," an IT official said.

Company officials denied any searches or raids.

IT officials also went for a survey of the Kings XI office in Gurgaon, sources said.

In Mumbai, the IT department searched the premises of companies associated with the IPL in the wake of allegations that telecasting agency Multi Screen Media had paid a facilitation fee of US $80 million to marketing agency World Sports Group.

The searches were conducted at the office premises of Multi-Screen Media (MSM) in suburban Malad, the telecasting agency of IPL, World Sports Group (WSG), the marketing agency of IPL, International Management Group (IMG), the organizing agency, and the Bandra house of Venu Nair, CEO of WSG.

The raids are related to a "facilitation fee" of US $80 million paid by MSM (formerly Sony Entertainment Television) to WSG, a source close to the development said.

"The Tax officials requested details of the contractual arrangements in relation to the BCCI and IPL and WSG cooperated fully with the investigating officers and will continue to do so," a WSG statement said.

The ED case is the first by it against IPL after it received preliminary information that foreign funds without permission of RBI might have trickled in, sources said.

There have been reports that funds from tax havens like Mauritius have been pumped into the league by various franchisees in violation of FEMA provisions.

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