IPL mess September 7, 2011

We weren't vigilant in handling IPL deals - Srinivasan

ESPNcricinfo staff

The BCCI president-elect, N Srinivasan, has admitted that the board was not vigilant in tackling financial irregularities in the IPL under Lalit Modi's watch, the Times of India has reported. Srinivasan, testifying before a parliamentary standing committee investigation into the IPL's finances, said that pleading ignorance of Modi's ways could not be an excuse - a significant change from the board's earlier stand on the issue.

The Times of India says it has a copy of the standing committee's report, which has Srinivasan stating on record: "We were taken for a ride. I know we cannot plead before you that we did not know all this was happening. Your question would be, were you not vigilant? What did you do? I am sorry, sir, there is no defence for me. No defence in front of you. So, I am not pleading that [ignorance] at all. We just put our heads down."

The newspaper also reports that the board president Shashank Manohar admitted that the cheques for all IPL deals were signed by Srinivasan, the then BCCI treasurer, and subsequently MP Pandove who replaced him, and not by Modi. The board had previously put the blame on Modi's shoulders, claiming that he had enjoyed a free hand in running the league.

The revelations add a new layer to the board's ongoing tussle against the Indian government's efforts to bring the body under the transparency-enhancing Right to Information (RTI) Act, and a proposed bill to regulate Indian sports bodies. The BCCI's argument against the RTI is that it doesn't rely on government grants. The standing committee has, however, reportedly noted that a "coherent and consistent policy should be devised for the future whereby high-profile money-spinning events such as the IPL are not kept out of the ambit of law and taxability".

The committee also reportedly noted that the BCCI "meekly endorsed and approved decisions that were taken by the chairman [Modi] and all those responsible in breaching the law should be investigated and punished without further loss of time".

"When we questioned them [Srinivasan and Manohar], they had absolutely no answers," Vijay Darda, member of the standing committee and a Rajya Sabha (the parliament's council of states) MP, told the Times of India. "With folded hands they just stood there and admitted they had no explanations to offer. The problem with BCCI is too much money and too many big names involved in the administration. Sharad Pawar [ICC president], Farooq Abdullah, Arun Jaitley and all politicians want to be part of it."

Darda also raised the issue of the IPL's dubious money trails, which was revealed by the committee's investigations. "It was harrowing when we went through the records," he said. "Money transferred from some tax haven to some other tax haven finally ends up with some connection in IPL. The committee wants to know what has been going on. We will have to ensure that they are brought to account.

"Monopoly is an issue too. If the board is brought under RTI, the ordinary cricket fan will at least know what he's paying for. Far too much is either unaccountable or being swept under the carpet."