ICC colluded with TV broadcaster, says CBI

Published: Friday, May 25, 2001, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi: Cricket's world governing body, under fire for its failure to curb the menace of match-fixing, faces further trouble over a multi-million Dollar television rights scam in India, officials said on Friday. Federal investigators are probing a deal between the International Cricket Council (ICC) and India's state-run broadcaster Doordarshan for the telecast rights of the ICC Knock Out tournament in Bangladesh in October, 1998. Central Bureau of Investigation officials say the ICC colluded with marketing company WorldTel and some Doordarshan officials in raising the bid money and claiming inflated production costs from the network. "We think Doordarshan was cheated and there is enough material to back that assumption," a CBI official told AFP. Early this year, the CBI raided the homes and offices of former ICC president Jagmohan Dalmiya, WorldTel chief Mark Mascarenhas and senior Doordarshan officials as part of the investigation. On Thursday, the CBI grilled Mascarenhas for over two hours in New Delhi. "We called him after scrutinising the papers and documents seized during the raids," the official said. "Investigations in the scam have revealed that ICC officials, Mascarenhas and Doordarshan officials were closely linked with each other," a daily quoted a CBI source as saying. WorldTel, a Connecticut-based company with offices in India, hit the headlines when it bought TV rights for the 1996 World Cup staged in the sub-continent. It recently renewed a five-year marketing deal with Indian superstar Sachin Tendulkar, reportedly worth $ 20 million, making the batting maestro the richest cricketer in the world. The CBI, whose probe into cricket match-fixing led to a life ban for former Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin, refused to say which other ICC officials will be investigated in the TV scam. The ICC, currently headed by Malcom Gray of Australia, was on Wednesday indicted by its own anti-corruption unit for failing to take timely steps to curb match-fixing. The ICC's chief investigator Paul Condon said in his report that match-fixing was still rife despite life bans imposed on Azharuddin and two other former captains, Hansie Cronje of South Africa and Salim Malik of Pakistan.

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