MUMBAI: A special court in India issued an arrest warrant Wednesday for exiled former cricket boss Lalit Modi over allegations of money laundering linked to a lucrative television deal, an official said.
The court in the financial capital Mumbai granted the non-bailable warrant after ex-Indian Premier League chairman Modi failed to answer a summons ordering his return from London to face corruption allegations.
A senior Enforcement Directorate officer confirmed to AFP via text message that the warrant had been issued by the court, which hears money laundering cases.
“Yes, we have received the warrant for Lalit Modi’s arrest,” the official from India’s financial crimes investigating agency, said on condition of anonymity.
Modi was instrumental in founding and overseeing the money-spinning Twenty20 IPL in 2008 before fleeing to London two years later when tax and financial crime authorities raided his premises.
Enforcement Directorate officers want to speak to him 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 facilitation 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 broadcast rights to 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 then IPL chairman.
Modi has more recently been embroiled in controversy with Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj who is under pressure to resign over her role in helping him gain a passport in Britain.
Modi was removed as 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.
Since its launch, the IPL has been mired in a series of corruption and betting scandals in cricket-loving India.
Last month, a Supreme Court-appointed panel suspended two of the IPL’s eight teams after officials were found guilty of illegally betting on matches.
International news organisations including AFP have suspended on-field coverage of matches hosted by the BCCI since 2012 after the board imposed restrictions on picture agencies.