IT seizures are just tip of iceberg

Written by: S K Sham
Published: Monday, July 31, 2000, 11:30 [IST]
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The cricketers and officials, whose names were mentioned in the betting and match-fixing activities, had, until only the other day, kept up a clenched fist, threatening to drag all and sundry to court in defamation suits.

Today, they are themselves left hopping like cats on a hot tin-roof, trying to save their own skin from what portends a long-drawn legal battle against the tax and law-enforcing authorities.

The countrywide raids by Income Tax personnel on residential and office premises of several prominent cricketers, high-office holding administrators, bookies, businessmen and even TV-rights-owning company bosses, have left no one in doubt that as to the enormity of the problem.

The ramifications in the shady business of betting and match-fixing could indeed be in the region of thousands of crores. Sometime back, the Additional Income Tax Commissioner Vishwa Bandhu Gupta got himself into so much trouble, as to invite suspension from service.

He let the cat out of the bag, when he said (in an off-guard disclosure) that several prominent cricketers possess assets that run into hundreds of crores. He had estimated the volume of betting in an important series of matches to be close to Rs 30,000 crore.

The seizures made by the Income Tax officers in the raids last week, are according to top IT officials just the tip of an iceberg . One must remember that, the questions on the assets held by our cricketers, were being asked for the last two months. Not much, thus, would have been left sticking out like a flag-on-a-staff.

When the investigations are taken to their ultimate conclusions, it will be seen whether Mr Gupta is either off the mark, or really knows his onions, as do so many in the cricket administration and outside.

With big money such easy pickings, some of our top cricketers have begun to value their show of opulence more than their deeds on the field of play. The life-style adopted by some of them may leave even the richest film stars of the country far, far behind.

If you survey the properties owned by a few of our prominent players, you might think they are not cricketers but people in estate-agency business.

It was one of the most elaborately-planned raids by the Income Tax department and undoubtedly, one of the biggest, in recent years.

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