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'Found convincing evidence of facilitation fee for TV rights'

Last updated on: April 23, 2010 09:53 IST

The Income Tax department probing alleged irregular transactions in the IPL has got "convincing evidence" of payment of "facilitation fee" to World Sports Group (WSG) by Multi-Screen Media (MSM) for acquiring T20 league's telecast rights, a senior officer said in Mumbai on Thursday.

"We have got convincing evidence of a facilitation fee of around $80 million paid by MSM to WSG," the official said on condition of anonymity.

He said the search team had secured a copy of the contract which had the mention of facilitation fee having been paid and the broadcasting agreement between IPL and MSM.

A portion of the facilitation fee was understood to have been paid by MSM to an offshore company of WSG in Mauritius, a tax haven, without paying income tax on the transaction in India.

The searches, which were conducted by IT officials on Wednesday at the offices of WSG, MSM, IMG - all closely associated with IPL, and the premises of different franchises were aimed at collecting details of ownership and the stake holding pattern of the owners, he said.

"Whenever necessary, the department will summon the franchises. We are looking into the layers of ownership to find out if there are any proxy stake holdings," he said.

Industrial Conglomerate Adani group, which made an unsuccessful bid for a franchise in Ahmedabad, is expected to submit a copy of the bid document on Friday, he said.

"When questioned, Lalit Modi told us that a copy of the bid document by Adani Group will be handed over to us by tomorrow," the official said.

Indicating that the probe was unlikely to conclude any time soon, he said, "We have just begun. It may take months to complete the process. We expect to get some more clinching evidence (of irregularities) soon."

He, however, clarified that the fairness of the auction process was not in the ambit of the inquiry.

In another development, IT officials on Thursday raided the premises of Red chillies Entertainment, a company owned by superstar Shah Rukh Khan, as part of their ongoing probe into the IPL transactions and scoured the documents.

A team of about six IT officials are involved in the operations at the company's offices at Bandra, a source close to the development said.

Red Chillies has an interest in Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), an IPL franchise, co-owned by actress Juhi Chawla.

The IT department has been conducting a series of search and survey operations on several franchises of the IPL over the last two days.

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