The IPL mess September 6, 2013

Modi found guilty on eight charges

The BCCI's disciplinary committee has found Lalit Modi, the former IPL chairman, guilty on eight different charges of "various acts of indiscipline and misconduct". The charges, relating to irregularities in various financial and administrative matters of the IPL including the sale of franchise and media rights, were pressed by the BCCI in 2010 soon after Modi's swift and dramatic exit from the league he founded.

The 134-page report - prepared by a committee comprising senior BCCI functionaries Arun Jaitley, Chirayu Amin and Jyotiraditya Scindia - has been submitted to the BCCI and will be discussed at a special general meeting on September 25. It is believed that a life ban for Modi will be recommended and accepted at the meeting.

In his reaction to the report, Modi pointed out several flaws in both the procedure and the findings. He alleged that Jaitley had a bias against him and also was the "strongest supporter" of N Srinivasan, the BCCI president. Modi said one of his main lines of defence was that the enquiry against him was "vitiated on account of malafide" because he had opposed Srinivasan's conflict of interest as team owner and administrator. He claimed that Jaitley "did not allow any question to be put in respect of Srinivasan's conflict of interest and virtually skirted the issue of Srinivasan's conflict of interest in his report." His response to the committee's actual findings echoed his defence on the various charges.

The committee found Modi guilty of rigging bids during the franchise auction in 2010, arm-twisting the Kochi franchise and threatening to terminate their franchise agreement in favour of another bidder, selling media and internet rights without proper authorisation from the BCCI and showing interest in creating a rebel T20 league in England without the knowledge of the BCCI and the ECB. The key charges that stuck:

TV rights issue
In January 2008, World Sports Group India was granted global television rights for the IPL between 2008-2017 while Multi Screen Media Satellite (Singapore) pte Ltd. got the rights to telecast the matches in the Indian subcontinent between 2008-2012. On March 14, 2009, at 8 pm, the BCCI terminated its agreement with MSM on account of various "breaches", including its failure to promote BIG TV, a ground sponsor. That left the Indian TV rights without a rights holder.

At 3 am on March 15, WSG Mauritius, which had the same directors as WSG India, was granted the global and Indian broadcast rights for the IPL between 2009-2017. A fresh agreement with WSG Mauritius was entered into, under which WSG Mauritius had 72 hours to find a broadcast partner failing which the rights would revert to the BCCI. It was also expected to pay the BCCI Rs 112.5 crores as a signing fee - a sum the BCCI contended it never received.

When WSG Mauritius failed to get a partner, it agreed the rights would revert back to the BCCI but WSG India would retain the global rights (excluding Indian subcontinent) till 2017. That still left the Indian rights without a rights holder.

However, the BCCI contended, MSM and WSG Mauritius cut a deal while the India rights were parked with WSG so that WSG would let go of the rights; once the rights were released back to the BCCI, MSM could get them back. For this, the BCCI contended, MSM paid WSG an $80million facilitation fee - a fee the board says should have come to it. The BCCI further contended that WSG's failure to honour the 72-hour clause, which effectively ensured it lost the rights, was only a mechanism for parking the rights till MSM came on board.

Finally, the BCCI contended that all this was done with the knowledge and active participation, of Modi - who was a via media between MSM and WSG.

There were three specific charges against Modi arising from this issue. First, that the agreement with WSG entered into on March 15 2009 was never intended to be performed; the report found this charge "not proved". Second, that Modi, without any authorization of the board, did not insist on WSG repaying the Rs 112.5 crore signing fee; the committee did not agree with Modi's defence that the payment was not insisted upon because the BCCI and MSM were in litigation, and held the charge as proved. Third, that Modi, despite knowledge of the nature and value of the facilitation agreement, obligated the BCCI to ensure its compliance vis a vis WSG Mauritius and further obligated the BCCI to make the payment if MSM defaulted - a "serious misconduct". The committee held Modi's defence - that neither he nor the BCCI were expected to know the nature and terms of the facilitation agreement - as "completely untenable" and held the charge as proved.

Rigging bids
In 2010, the BCCI drafted an invitation to tender [ITT] for rights to two new franchises that were to be auctioned later that year. The BCCI claimed that Modi added - without formally informing the board - two "onerous conditions" to the ITT: the bidder should have a net worth of US$1bn and must provide a bank guarantee of Rs 460 crores [$100 million]. According to the BCCI, these conditions were not in the draft ITT, which was approved by the IPL Governing Council, and were added by Modi to the final document. Modi's defence was that he had informed the then BCCI president, Shashank Manohar, verbally but the disciplinary committee concluded that Modi had acted without the authorization of the governing council. The panel reasoned that this was done to "exclude healthy competition and favour two bidders, which is evident from the fact that only two bids were received in pursuant to the ITT."

Arm-twisting franchises
The rights to the two new franchises in 2010 - Pune Warriors and Kochi Tuskers - were bought by Sahara Adventure Sports and Rendezvous Sports World Pvt Ltd respectively.

The BCCI's contention was that Modi was "favouring another bidder" and had threatened a "representative" of the Kochi franchise to give up the rights, failing which he could impose various sanctions that could harm the new entrant. The BCCI claimed that Modi's threat was an "act of indiscipline and misconduct".

The disciplinary panel found that the charge stood against Modi because "despite being the successful bidder, Mr Modi made a roving enquiry on the ownership details of the Kochi franchise at the stage of signing the Franchise Agreement." The report stated: "He goes out of his way in making intrusive questions about the ownership details of the Kochi franchise." The panel said the act of arm-twisting was detrimental to the BCCI's interest and "endangered the harmony and affected the reputation of the BCCI."

Click here to read the full text of the disciplinary committee's report

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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