Mumbai police suspects Sodha to be a bookie

Published: Friday, August 20, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Mumbai:Police in Mumbai said they suspected local businessman Jagdish Sodha, in the eye of a storm for his alleged links with banned Kenyan cricketer Maurice Odumbe, to be a bookie as he was one of over a dozen detained during a raid on cricket betting in 2003.

"Sodha was one of them (those detained) and we suspect him to be a bookie, although it is very difficult to prove his involvement in bookmaking," former joint commissioner of police (crime) Satya Pal Singh said.

Singh said that on the International Cricket Council's (ICC) demand a report has been sent to it about Sodha's activities in which police mentioned that the businessman and film-maker had booked room for Odumbe during one of the visits of the cricketer to Mumbai.

Sodha admitted that he was among the persons detained from the suburban restaurant, but claimed he had gone for lunch there with family and was mingling with some acquaintances when the police raided.

Odumbe, a former captain, was on Wednesday banned for five years and faced an ICC disciplinary proceeding for his alleged connections with bookies. The ICC inquiry report points out at Odumbe's connections with Sodha, whom it termed as "alleged bookie".

However, Sodha said that he had paid Odumbe Rs 25,000 and that it was a friendly loan that was returned.

"Odumbe is a personal friend and still remains a friend," he said reacting to the five-year ban imposed by Kenyan Cricket Association (KCA) on the cricketer.

Sodha, who has served a legal notice on the ICC for alleging that he was a bookie and linking him with Odumbe, said there was no police record whatsoever in Mumbai or any part of the country to show this and accused the ICC of making false allegations.

According to Sodha, he came in contact with Odumbe through his relatives in Kenya 7-8 years ago, during the cricketer's visit to India.

"We met in Mumbai 5-6 times, and Odumbe's prime concern then was to get medicines for his brother who suffers from a heart ailment," Sodha said.He said he not only made medicines available to Odumbe, but also arranged for his discounted stay in hotels.

"Once Odumbe fell short of Rs 25,000 to pay hotel bills in Mumbai and I lent him the money which has now become a contentious issue," Sodha said, adding it was a help to a friend and money was eventually returned.

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