Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo
The ownership structure of Rajasthan Royals is set to change after Raj Kundra, the co-owner whose involvement in the IPL corruption scandal has been established, decided to offload his stake in the franchise.
ESPNcricinfo understands the Royals management submitted a letter to the IPL authorities on February 16 in Bangalore on the sidelines of the IPL player auction, requesting them to let them change the ownership structure of Jaipur IPL Cricket Pvt Ltd, the legal entity that owns the franchise.
The letter did not detail if Kundra's stake of 11.7 per cent in Royals' parent company would be sold off to a new investor or if the other three stakeholders would add to their holding, if Kundra is allowed to exit.
Kundra, IPL chairman Ranjib Biswal and Royals chief executive Raghu Iyer remained unavailable for a comment. But according to a BCCI insider, Royals are treading cautiously "knowing the sensitivity of the matter". "They will reveal the future course of action only if they get the permission." The insider added that the BCCI is likely to discuss Royals' letter during its AGM in Chennai on March 2.
Kundra's move doesn't come as a surprise since he had indicated in a Supreme Court affidavit in November 2014 that he was willing to give up his stake till the allegations against him are cleared.
"Applicant, being a man of his words, hereby agrees to transfer his ownership in the shares of Jaipur IPL Cricket Private Limited in the custody of this Hon'ble Court or to such person, as may be appointed by the Hon'ble Court," the affidavit had said.
"He agrees that in such a scenario, he will receive back the shares, or any benefit thereof, only in case he is cleared of all of the present allegations. However, the applicant clarifies that the above mentioned act is without prejudice and should in no manner be considered as an admission of guilt or as an acceptance of the said report."
Kundra, who was found guilty of betting on IPL games, was interrogated by the Delhi Police soon after the arrest of Gurunath Meiyappan for similar offences in May 2013. Since then, Kundra has been suspended but no punishment has been meted out to either the teams or the individuals in question. On January 22, the Supreme Court appointed a three-member panel to finalise the punishment to be imposed on Kundra and Meiyappan.
Royals have always been under the scanner for their connection with Lalit Modi, the IPL's founding chairman who was banned for life from the BCCI. Suresh Chellaram, whose family owns the biggest stake in the Royals, is Modi's brother-in-law.
Royals is co-owned by Emerging Media (IPL) Ltd (Manoj Badale, 32.4%), Tresco International Ltd (Suresh Chellaram family, 44.2%), Blue Water Estate Ltd (Lachlan Murdoch, 11.7%) and Kuki Investments Ltd (Raj Kundra & family, 11.7%).