Monday, April 26, 2010

IPL chief suspended amid corruption claims

Indian cricket authorities suspended the head and driving force behind the money-spinning Indian Premier League on Monday in a bid to stem an escalating crisis involving tax and match-fixing allegations.

After a week of intense speculation that IPL boss Lalit Modi faced the axe, the news came just hours after the final of a tournament he built into a multi-billion-dollar industry.

A statement from the president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which owns the IPL, said Modi had been suspended with immediate effect and been given two weeks to prove his innocence.

"The alleged acts of individual misdemeanours of Mr Lalit K. Modi, chairman IPL and vice president BCCI, have brought a bad name to the administration of cricket and the game itself," said a statement from president Shashank Manohar.

The governing council of the BCCI held an emergency meeting in Mumbai on Monday without Modi. Members filed into the Wankhede Stadium in front of a scrum of press photographers and television cameras.

The seeds of Modi's downfall were sown two weeks ago when he revealed the ownership details of a new franchise set to join the glitzy and globally popular IPL in 2011.

'Minister forced to resign'
In one of his numerous postings on micro-blogging site Twitter, he embarrassed a high-profile member of the government, junior foreign minister Shashi Tharoor, by leaking how Tharoor's girlfriend had been given a free stake in the new team.

Under pressure from the opposition, which accused Tharoor of misusing his office to secure benefit for himself, the minister was forced to resign, embarrassing the Congress-led government.

Since then, the finance ministry has launched a wide-ranging tax probe into the IPL, the BCCI and its franchise owners -- powerful business and Bollywood figures -- and many blame Modi for bringing the tax man to their door.

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