India news January 14, 2016

Ganguly asked to respond to conflict of interest allegation

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Archive - Ganguly had nothing to do with Pune bid, says Manohar

The BCCI's ombudsman Justice AP Shah has asked Sourav Ganguly to respond, by January 28, to an allegation of conflict of interest relating to his role on the IPL governing council. The allegation, received by Shah from a member of the public, is that Ganguly has a commercial tie-up with the RP Sanjiv Goenka group, which has a stake in the Atletico de Kolkata football club in Indian Super League (ISL) and, in December, secured the ownership rights to run the Pune franchise in the IPL.

Shah has also written to BCCI president Shashank Manohar and general manager (game development), Ratnakar Shetty, seeking a BCCI response by January 27.

"This letter is a formal complaint against Mr Sourav Ganguly, an administrator who is currently the President of Cricket Association of Bengal and also member of IPL Governing Council," Mumbai-based activist Niraj Gunde wrote in an emailed letter to Shah, comprising 19 pages where he has given details of the ATK structure.

"According to Wikipedia, Atletico de Kolkata (commonly abbreviated as ATK), is an Indian Super League football franchise, based in Kolkata, West Bengal. The team is owned by Kolkata Games and Sports Pvt. Ltd. which consists of former Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly, Spanish La Liga club Atletico Madrid, alongside businessman Harshavardhan Neotia, Sanjiv Goenka and Utsav Parekh. This means the RPG group are partners with Mr Sourav Ganguly in another commercial venture. It is a clear case of conflict of interest which was not disclosed by Mr. Sourav Ganguly when RPG group bid and won the IPL team Pune Franchise for 2 years during October/November 2015," Gunde wrote to Shah, accessed by ESPNcricinfo.

This is the first high profile case filed with Shah, who was appointed by the BCCI last November as part of reforms initiated by Manohar.

In his email to Ganguly, sent on Thursday and which was also accessed by ESPNcricinfo, Shah wrote: "The Office of the Ombudsman has received an application from Mr Niraj Gunde (cc-ed) on 13.01.2016, making certain allegations regarding conflict of interest against yourself. A copy of the application, numbered Application No 1 of 2016, is attached. Please provide your response to the same within two weeks from today, i.e., by 28.01.2016."

Sourav Ganguly, president of the Cricket Association of Bengal, is also a co-owner of the football franchise Atletico de Kolkata © AFP

A similar note was dispatched to Manohar and Shetty, via an email, asking them to respond the day before the deadline set for Ganguly expires. Incidentally, Manohar had defended Ganguly when the new franchises were announced last year stating that, "According to me there is not [a conflict of interest] because this is a transparent bidding concept."

Gunde's accusation comes close on the heels of the Lodha Committee report, which laid heavy emphasis on getting rid of various conflict-of-interest situations prevalent within the BCCI as well as state association. The report detailed, across five pages, conflict issues and its various forms, and illustrated with various examples where the BCCI and state association administrators, employees, players, selectors and commentators could be in breach of the various rules.

A case of indirect conflict, the committee said, could be: "C is a Member of the IPL Governing Council. The IPL enters into a contract with a new franchisee, the Managing Director of which is C's partner in an independent commercial venture. C is hit by Indirect Conflict of Interest."

That example matches Gunde's allegation that Ganguly could fall under this definition of conflict of interest. Both Goenka and Ganguly brushed off any suggestions that this is a case of conflict of interest.

Incidentally Gunde was one of the people interviewed by the Lodha committee before it submitted its report to the Supreme Court. Last year, Gunde had revealed a picture of BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur in the company of suspected bookie Karan Gilhotra. That had prompted the ICC CEO David Richardson to write a letter to then BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya over an allegation that Thakur was spotted with Gilhotra, who "appears on the ICC ACSU database… following rumours … about his involvement in betting on cricket." Thakur retaliated through a letter to the then ICC chairman N Srinivasan, alleging a "counter offensive" from the latter, following Thakur's election as BCCI secretary.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • sray23 on January 31, 2016, 0:41 GMT

    Only if Ganguly is in a position to do favours for the Pune owners is this a conflict of interest. Ganguly's exact responsibilities as IPL governing council member and access to material nonpublic information should be looked at. If Ganguly has significant scope to access information which he could use to advantage the Pune owners OVER other framchises, then it may be conflict of interest. But if his role is mainly ceremonial with little hands on responsibility, then it is not conflict of interest.

  • mjrvasu on January 17, 2016, 11:25 GMT

    The Lodha Committe has successfully (?) sabotaged the entire framework of Cricket in India. End of the Power Season, folks. The new committee has to scrounge for sponsors, TV rights and what not. Not going to happen.

  • bored_iam on January 16, 2016, 0:51 GMT

    @Dev_anand: Sir what you're suggesting isn't the way justice in India works. You have to hear both sides BEFORE the decision.

  • YoBro on January 15, 2016, 18:36 GMT

    @dev_anand: Last time I heard an ombudsman is a person who is tasked with the responsibility of investigating complaints by private citizens against other Govt or private corporate agencies and/or employees. So his job is to ask questions; he isn't there to "rule" anything. Maybe next time, atleast look up the word in a dictionary before commenting. @grindar: LOL, epic comment. Exactly my thoughts initially when I tried to sort through the quagmire. But after reading through it, it doesn't really look like a conflict of interest at all. Ganguly is part owner of ATK, a football franchise, along with the RPG group. Now if the RPG group also invested in the IPL Pune franchise, what does Ganguly have to do with this? Even if we assume he does somehow get a cut of that IPL Pune franchise, through some complex arrangement with RPG, it would only be a conflict of interest if he was on the IPL payroll, as @munibkhan pointed out. This is a frivolous petition seeking attention.

  • munibkhan on January 15, 2016, 10:20 GMT

    Is his role at the IPL equivalent to a full-time employee? Then it might be a conflict of interest. He might need a No Objection Certificate from the IPL allowing him to conduct other commercial activities. If he's a contractual/part-time employee, then there should be no issue.

  • GrindAR on January 14, 2016, 21:19 GMT

    Is it? When BCCI started governing Football game? Dont waste other time, because you have time to waste and DONT HAVE ETHICS AND DIGNITY.(To who ever raised this?)

  • Dev_Anand on January 14, 2016, 19:41 GMT

    what good is an ombudsman if he is asking for an explanation. He should be able to rule one way or the other.

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