The tainted former chairman of the Indian Premier League (IPL) Mr Lalit Modi, has made a public statement of denial against the financial irregularities and other improprieties that he stands accused of. Speaking in an interview with the Youtube channel this week, Modi professed his innocence, specifically saying that he did not fix the second IPL team auction. He added that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was well aware that his family and friends were part of the original team auction in 2008. He also said that the World Sport Group (WSG) was deserving of the controversial $80 million facilitation fee it got for selling the broadcasting rights of the Twenty20 league to Multi-Screen Media/Sony.
Modi specified that the bidding for the auction which was conducted in March 2010 was carried out under international tender rules and thus, there was no way of influencing it from the outside. Modi stands accused of favoring the Gujarat-based Adani group, which wanted an IPL team for Ahmedabad, but lost out to Sahara and Kochi. "If (I had rigged the auction) how did Adani not win? Why did Videocon not win? Sahara won it for $370 million because it was an open process. Kochi won."
Modi insists that because he was championing a new product, he was likely to unsettle the "old establishment" and modify the ways things are handled. He admitted, "Of course we made some mistakes, but if we hadn't made some mistakes, I wouldn't have corrected them and made it better and that is why we are the world's hottest league".
On the accusations that he used the IPL for the purpose of nepotism, Modi stated that persons within the BCCI possessed knowledge that some of his relatives were part of the auction. It was not surprising that family and friends went ahead and bid, he expressed, because they were the only ones who had faith in him while almost everybody else thought IPL would die. "When somebody turns around and says that they didn't know about it it's absolutely a false story. The people who bid were in the room, everybody knew who they were, from the governing council to the BCCI members."
Regarding WSG's generous facilitation fee, Modi said that he was satisfied that the party made money especially since they were the only bidders willing to take a hazard and bid the rights for the first year of the league."A marketing company's job is to buy and sell rights. So if they bought a right worth close to $2 billion, as an example, and they sold it for $2 billion and $80 million to someone else, as an example, and they made $80 million, what's wrong with that?"
The facilitation fee is now a matter of arbitration between the BCCI and WSG at the International Chambers of Commerce in Singapore.
Despite the many accusations and legal proceedings that he's presently embroiled in, Modi has stayed on in London, claiming that returning to India would pose a risk to his life. "The Indian police have continuously told me that the threat perception exists and as and when I feel comfortable with that factor I would go back."
He said he is not sorry for the comments he made on Twitter about the shareholding of the Kochi consortium, which eventually led to his expulsion from the league, and which also led to the resignation of junior external affairs minister to resignation of Shashi Tharoor who was mentoring the bidding group. Kochi is now on the verge of being scrapped since it has not been to resolve its ownership disputes.
Finally Modi denied making any money personally from the tournament, and added he was confident the proceedings against him would prove his innocence. "It's going to end with my getting a clean slate."