MUMBAI: Indian financial investigators have ordered exiled former cricket chief Lalit Modi to return home to be interrogated over allegations of money-laundering linked to a mega TV deal, an officer said Tuesday.
The Enforcement Directorate has issued the summons over a case relating to a lucrative television rights deal for the Indian Premier League (IPL), the money-spinning Twenty20 competition that Modi effectively founded and oversaw before he fled to London some five years ago.
“Yes, we have issued summons to Lalit Modi. He has to now appear (before us), give the details we ask for and join in the investigation that is going on,” an Enforcement Directorate officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The former IPL chairman, who is now based in Britain, would have three weeks to present himself before investigators in India, said the official.
“If he does not show up, we will take appropriate action,” he added.
It is the first time that the directorate has issued a formal summons against Modi in connection with allegations that proceeds from the TV deal were funnelled to unauthorised beneficiaries in Singapore and Mauritius.
The Multi Screen Media (MSM) of Sony Entertainment paid a faciliation fee of 4.25 billion rupees ($67 million) to the Mauritius arm of World Sports Group (WSG) as part of a contract for taking over the broadcast rights of the IPL.
The Enforcement Directorate is probing if part of this fee was allegedly siphoned off to unknown individuals, at the behest of Modi who was the IPL chairman then.
The directorate, which is India’s top financial investigation agency, did however issue a notice back in 2010 seeking to know his whereabouts.
When he failed to respond, Modi’s passport was subsequently revoked, although a court ruled last August that it should be restored.
Modi, who claims his life is threatened by the Mumbai mafia, fled to London when tax and financial crime authorities raided his premises in 2010 in a money laundering and tax evasion investigation.
He has been in the news lately after reports emerged indicating that India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj helped him gain emergency travel papers so that he could accompany his wife when she underwent cancer treatment in Portugal.
Modi has since taken to Twitter to attack his opponents, including some senior members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party as well as the main opposition Congress party.
He was removed as IPL chairman in 2010 and later banned for life from holding any positions in the sport by the powerful Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
Modi has consistently denied all accusations against him.