x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Lalit Modi claims he is victim of a 'witch hunt'

The removed IPL commissioner has responded to allegations of bungling and corruption in a lengthy interview posted on his website.

Lalit Modi claims he is the victim of a witch hunt.
Lalit Modi claims he is the victim of a witch hunt.

The removed Indian Premier League (IPL) commissioner, Lalit Modi, has responded to allegations of bungling and corruption by insisting that he has gone by the book in all his dealings and is currently a victim of “some sort of witch hunt”.

An interview by former BBC sports editor Mihir Bose has been posted on Mr Modi’s website in which the businessman says he is not leaving the UK to face the allegations in India as he fears for his safety.

In the interview, which lasts for nearly 35 minutes, Mr Modi says will not return to India to respond to the Enforcement Directorate, the Indian agency looking into his foreign exchange deals.

“I have given every single paper of document that they have asked for. Besides, it has been well publicised that when I shifted the IPL to South Africa in 2009 I received death threats and everywhere I went I had a big security cover with me, and that threat is still on.”

On issues like why he perceived there was a witch hunt and why the Indian cricket board (BCCI) turned against him, Mr Modi said that he was unable to comment on the issue for legal reasons.

However, he defended allegations of conflict of interest with his relatives and friends being owners of IPL franchises. “But there was a bidding process and bids were opened in front of all others and everyone in the room knew each other and who is connected to whom.

“One thing needs to be understood here. When I mooted the project there were not many takers at a time when nobody cared for domestic cricket. So my friends and relatives were the ones who believed in me and stood by me. But at the end of the day, they won in an open bidding process.”

“I created something out of nothing. And it is the Indian board and the organisation who have benefited the most out of a world- class project that I conceived.

“Yes I had a lavish lifestyle but that because of the way I have been brought up. But I never took anything at BCCI’s cost. Yes I might have used certain facilities here and there but all my flights, the staff that I employed, everything has been foot by me.”

Mr Modi maintained that he remained unperturbed and was not losing any sleep. “Those are not charges, those are allegations. I will be cleared. It may take time but I am fine. At the end of the day, I have built a product which has proven to be a success and is out there for the world to see.

“The only thing that makes me unhappy is that there are people out there who are trying to bring it down. I may not be there tomorrow but here we have a thing that is the pride of the world and people with vested interests are trying to run it down.

“My mistakes depend on how every person wants to see. Ultimately, the board, the fans, the players, the infrastructure... everyone benefited. Mistakes are made, but you learn and you carry on. I have no regrets.”

kshyam@thenational.ae