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Thatscricket - News - TV rights scam: CBI team to visit London

Published: Sunday, June 3, 2001, 23:53 [IST]
 
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New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is sending its team to London this week to hold discussions with the International Cricket Council (ICC) officials in connection with the probe into the alleged bungling in allotment of television rights of sports events between 1996 and 1999, including the last edition of the cricket World Cup. Agency sources told UNI on Sunday that ''a high-powered team will leave for London later this week to probe the multi-crore TV scam. It will concentrate on the allegations of bungling in acquisition of TV rights for the 1999 cricket World Cup played in England.''The agency officials are also likely to talk to ICC's anti-corruption unit chief Paul Condon about his investigation into the allegations of corruption in granting of telecast rights to various companies.The Anti-Corruption Unit had, in its first report on match-fixing, stated that it was forming a group consisting of many investigating agencies including the CBI, to probe match-fixing instances and TV rights violation cases. The ICC promised its assistance to the CBI in probing these cases in India or abroad. The tournaments in which the alleged bungling took place were French Open tennis championship, 1997, Wimbledon 1997 tennis tournament, Independence Cup cricket tournament in 1997, the 1998 ICC Knock Out cricket tournament and the cricket World Cup last year.A specific brief of the CBI team would be to collect information about the operations and activities of the WorldTel, headed by sports promoter Mark Mascarenhas, who had been in the eye of storm ever since the CBI conducted raids at his residences and business establishments in India in connection with the probe. Mascarenhas was called by the agency for questioning earlier last month about the findings of the raids and the allegations of his involvement in the matter. He is scheduled to be called once again for a detailed interrogation. The sports promoter is likely to be called after the CBI team returns from Kathmandu. WorldTel recently signed Sachin Tendulkar for a 100-crore five-year contract.The investigation into the scam worth crores of rupees had revealed that officials of the ICC, Doordarshan and Mascarenhas worked 'closely' to carry out the bungling in granting TV rights to private companies.The investigation began last year after the agency registered five cases, two of them against WorldTel, for alleged bungling in telecast rights for cricket tournaments since 1996, including the World Cup 1999.The charges include inflated production costs and undue benefit of overseas telecast rights to WorldTel amounting to a bungling of Rs 10 crores, and a criminal conspiracy to cheat Doordarshan by enhancing Doordarshan's bid for India and overseas rights which led to a loss of more than Rs 21 crores to Prasar Bharati.The CBI on November 13 last year raided the office and residence of Jagmohan Dalmiya and six top serving and retired officials of Doordarshan. The premier investigating agency also carried out raids at the residential and official premises of certain private TV business houses. Simultaneous raids, which started in the wee hours of the day, were conducted in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Lucknow.The raids were conducted at the premises of ex-Doordarshan officials Mr K S Sarma, Mr K K Unhikrishnan, Mr Rakesh Bahadur, Mr Sanjeev Datta and Dr P K Seth among others and Stracon India chief Siddharth Ray, Worldtel Inc, (United Kingdom), WorldTel India, Bangalore, headed by Mascarenhas and United Television, Mumbai. The CBI charged the DD officials with abusing their official position while serving as public servants by entering into a criminal conspiracy with an intention to cheat the department. UNI

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