Question mark hangs over Kochi owners: Modi

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi on Wednesday maintained that there was a question mark over the owners of IPL Kochi franchisee and they would deal with it.

Updated: April 14, 2010 14:49 IST
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Unfazed by Shashi Tharoor's counter-attack, IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi on Wednesday maintained that there was a question mark over the owners of IPL Kochi franchisee and they would deal with it.

In the midst of a raging controversy in which the Minister of State for External Affairs has been drawn into, Modi told a press conference in Mumbai that he would call a meeting of the IPL Governing Council after April 25 and discuss the issue.

"As regards all earlier franchisees we know who the owners are. They come, they attend conferences and meetings but as far as Kochi IPL is concerned we had a question mark.

"Even those who presented the bid documents do not know who they (owners) are," he said in reply to questions over Kochi team ownership, following a controversy that Tharoor's close friend Sunanda Pushkar has got a free equity of 19 per cent valued at about Rs 70 crores in the consortium that owns the team.

Replying to a question he said in the case of eight teams already in the IPL, Modi said everybody knew who the shareholders were but in the case of Kochi even the shareholders did not know.

Calling it a "small issue, nevertheless an issue" Modi said,"We will deal with it."

To a question about his interest in Rajasthan Royals team, he said, "I have no hidden agenda or hidden stake." Asked if the latest controversy has affected him, he said, "No, nothing."

Modi earlier said that it was a job to seek details of every shareholder and authenticate the shareholding of every franchisee.

"It is my job as Chairman of IPL to seek details and authenticate the shareholding of every franchise... how would otherwise I know where the money is coming from," Modi said in reply to Tharoor who accused him of impropriety by divulging the details of the shareholding of Kochi franchise.

Wondering as to why any third party (Tharoor), which is not a shareholder in any of the franchise, should be exercised about IPL seeking details, Modi said that he did not know about who Sunanda Pushkar was till he read about her in the newspapers.

Pushkar, who was given 19 per cent of the 25 per cent equity held by Rendezvous Sports World in Kochi franchise, is close to Tharoor, who is reportedly planning to marry her.

The cash-rich IPL, which has become a one billion dollar revenue entity in the third season this year, had auctioned Kochi and Pune franchise to Rendezvous and Sahara last month for a total of about Rs 3,200 crore.

Modi, who has been credited with success of IPL, also wondered as to why Pushkar should be given free equity and quipped "whether she is bringing any value?"

Questioning Tharoor making a phone call to IPL for not disclosing the identity of shareholders of Rendezvous, he said "his call has been minuted and the entire conversation has been minuted by IPL".

He said that his main concern was always to find out the sources of money and identity of shareholders to maintain transparency in IPL and keep it above board, particularly on account of the huge money involved.

Asked about the Board of Control for Cricket in India President Shashank Manohar taking up cudgels on Kochi issue, Modi said "I will not comment on the issue, particularly when it is our internal matter. I will give a suitable reply."

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