Modi ousted at end of IPL season

Indian cricket league finale also commissioner's farewell

NEW DELHI – The midnight ouster of commissioner Lalit Modi overshadowed the final moments of the third season of cricket’s Indian Premier League, featuring a glittering closing ceremony Sunday night in Mumbai with performances by top Bollywood stars such as actress Bipasha Basu and actor Shahid Kapur.

News channels went into overdrive instantly after the final match, with the coverage focused on Modi's ouster and the implications of Monday's IPL governing council meeting by the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

During the meeting, the IPL governing council discussed the 22 charges of impropriety that were served last night via email to Modi in which he stands accused in a 34-page notice of various charges. The BCCI has also launched its internal investigation on Modi's alleged financial wrongdoings. These include his alleged involvement in an $80 million dollar kickback paid by TV rightsholder Sony Entertainment Television parent MultiScreen Media to sports management agency World Sports Group, while assigning telecast rights, worth about $1.6 billion. Modi has also been accused of attempting to rig the bids for two new IPL teams auctioned last month.

Modi has been given 15 days to respond to the charges. Meanwhile, MSM and WSG have denied any financial wrongdoing claiming that the “facilitation fees” was a part of their official contract but income tax officials reportedly believe that the transaction -- funneled via offshore companies -- has flouted Indian tax laws to the tune of at least about $31 million.

The government's ongoing financial probe into IPL affairs green-lit by finance minister Pranabh Mukherjee saw a series of raids by income tax officials last week nationwide which also covered the offices of MSM, WSG and even some teams such as Kolkata Knight Riders owned by top Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan.

Following Modi's departure, the IPL council announced the announcement of his interim replacement Chirayu Amin.

Regardless, the entire episode – which triggered off with a message by Modi on microblogging site Twitter in which he questioned the ownership of a recently auctioned franchise team – has had its fair share of drama worthy of a Bollywood potboiler.

“I am speaking as IPL commissioner and the captain of the team. IPL has been unfortunately surrounded with off-field dramas. The recent happenings are only based on innuendoes, half truths and motivated leaks from all sides. I assure you all decisions are jointly taken by the governing council and were approved by the general body in the first and the second year of IPL. I reassure you that if there is any flouting of rules and any irregularities, I take on the full responsibility,” Modi said in an emotional speech at Sunday night's ceremony.
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