India domestic news March 14, 2012

Two JKCA officials accused of embezzling funds

ESPNcricinfo staff

A police investigation has begun against two officials of the Jammu & Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA) over misappropriation of funds, with the ensuing scandal also threatening to ensnare association president, and union government minister, Farooq Abdullah.

On March 10 the police registered a case filed by JKCA chairman Muhammad Aslam Goni against general secretary - and former treasurer - Ahsan Mirza and chief administrative officer Mohammad Saleem Khan for allegedly opening and operating bogus association bank accounts into which money received from the BCCI had been siphoned off. The pair had originally been asked to step down on March 7 after current treasurer Manzoor Wazir detected financial irregularities in the association's accounts. The police are reported to have raided both the association office and the homes of the two accused, who have applied for anticipatory bail in a Srinagar court.

Abdullah, who is also the chairman of the BCCI's marketing sub-committee, was dragged into the dispute when the Jammu & Kashmir bank produced a document showing he had authorised a loan worth Rs 1.91 crores to Mirza in 2008. While Abdullah confirmed to television channel Times Now on March 12 that a case has been filed, he claimed that the money transferred to Mirza's account was to repay the money Mirza had lent the association when the court had frozen its accounts back in 2006. "The association had to take an interest-free loan of Rs 1.91 crore for work, "Abdullah said. "This money was paid back."

According to reports, the fake accounts were opened in 2009 and money was subsequently withdrawn in cash at regular intervals in amounts ranging from Rs three lakhs to Rs 10 lakhs. In all, Rs 13.29 crores has allegedly been withdrawn by Mirza and Khan from accounts over a three year period.

In the state assembly, the Opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PPP) reportedly waved a copy of the bank letter and called Abdullah the main benefactor of the scam. They claimed that Mirza and Khan were being turned into scapegoats and called for an official government investigation into the matter.

Edited by Tariq Engineer

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