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In his first public statement since the controversy over the Kochi franchise ownership, IPL chairman Lalit Modi has said he disclosed the consortium's shareholding pattern because of the general confusion over those details. His comments came on a day Sunanda Pushkar, one of those Modi had listed as a Kochi shareholder, denied she was acting as a proxy and said the franchise had given her equity as payment for her marketing expertise and her help in putting the bid together.
In Mumbai, Modi explained the reason for his revelations, through Twitter, of the Kochi ownership details. "The only reason we did it (disclose the identities) was that even those who presented the bid documents did not know who the owners were," Modi said in Mumbai . "In regard to all the franchises bought earlier, everyone knows who they are… in regard to Kochi, we have some question marks in regard to who they are. Even the shareholders don't know who they are."
Modi was speaking at a press conference called to announce details of the IPL awards and questions on the Kochi controversy were officially off the agenda but he eventually answered a few. "We will deal with Kochi after the IPL is over," he said. "It is not a big issue but an issue nevertheless. We will call a governing council meeting to present my facts."
In a separate interview to PTI, Modi said it was his job as IPL chairman to seek details and authenticate the shareholding of every franchise. "How otherwise would I know where the money is coming from," he asked.
Sunanda Pushkar, whom Modi revealed to hold free equity in the Kochi consortium, said she was approached last year by Rendezvous "inviting me to associate myself with them as a consultant in their various sporting activities and particularly in their potential bid to acquire the franchise of an IPL team.
"In view of my extensive international experience as a business executive, marketing manager and entrepreneur, I was invited to assist Rendezvous in the areas of fund-raising, networking, elsewhere; event management; and brand building. Because this is a start-up, I was told that in lieu of a salary they would grant me minor equity in Rendezvous in return for my efforts. I have accepted no salary or expenses and am conscious that the equity remains only on paper for the foreseeable future."
Pushkar is a close associate of Indian federal minister Shashi Tharoor's; the minister has been criticised for not revealing the link earlier, on the contrary stressing he had no personal stake in the Kochi bid. In her statement on Wednesday, she denied acting as a proxy for Tharoor.
"My own business interests and assets are substantial, and efforts to besmirch Tharoor by presenting me as a proxy for him are personally insulting for me as a woman and as a friend."