Rajasthan Royals Run Risk Of Franchise Termination
NEW DELHI (TIP): Another IPL team owner has been caught betting. After Chennai Super Kings principal and the inoperative BCCI chief S Srinivasan’s son in law, Gurunath Meiyappan, was arrested by Mumbai police for being in touch with bookies and placing bets, Rajasthan Royals owner, Raj Kundra, has confessed to the Delhi Police of doing the same. While betting/gambling is a minor, bailable offence under the CrPC, the BCCI rules are pretty harsh.
If an owner is caught betting, his team franchise can be terminated. So, Rajasthan Royals runs the risk of being scratched as Kundra is one of its owners. Meiyappan’s status as CSK owner is disputed. If he’s found to be not an owner but an important official in the team, CSK won’t be scratched but will probably attract a hefty fine. The Delhi Police commissioner told the media on Thursday that during his 11-hour interrogation on Wednesday, Kundra has confessed to placing bets on his team winning.
He said Kundra has lost a lot of money on bets, which other police officers estimate it to be around Rs 1 crore in the last three IPL seasons. He also said that Kundra would place his bets through one Umesh Goenka, Kundra’s business partner, whom the commissioner described as a “bookie”. Kundra and his wife Shilpa Shetty went back to Mumbai on Thursday as Delhi police was undecided on whether to slap the anti-gambling laws against Kundra.
Police sources said Kundra was betting for the past three years while his friend Umesh Goenka has been betting in matches for past 6-7 years and was also in touch with several bookies. The cops are now trying to ascertain whether the Kundra-Goenka betting link was in any way connected with spot-fixing. Police also revealed on Thursday that Shilpa Shetty had also placed bets in an IPL match. This was claimed by Umesh Goenka in his statement.
Sources said they have identified a “money trail” and the bookies who routed Kundra and Goenka’s wagered money. TOI had first reported on Thursday that Kundra was betting on IPL matches. Raj Kundra reportedly told the cops that being a British national, “he was unaware of the fact that betting was illegal in India”. He said that betting was legal in the UK. A policer officer, however, said that ignorance of the law was no defence.
In any case, it was strange that Kundra didn’t find anything odd in the manner in which bets were placed in India. Delhi Police sources say that Umesh Goenka, who was given VIP passes by Kundra for every RR match, used to talk to team players and would ask them about team’s strategy, pitch and other details and then place bets. Kundra gambled through Umesh, often by giving verbal instructions on the amount he would place and on what. In short, Goenka was acting as a bookie for Kundra.
Umesh, claimed the police, was in touch with many other bookies. “In betting world, if a person bets and when it is taken further (or doubled), words like kha liya (ate it) are used or having won on the initial amount, if he gambles again on the winnings, it would be referred to as badha diya (increased),” said an officer. Officials said they will question Kundra once again and they currently taking a call on whether to charge him under gambling act or not.
Shilpa Shetty denied the allegations on Twitter saying her involvement in betting was “complete nonsense” and that she had “never bet on any cricket match ever”. The tweets were retweeted by Kundra. Earlier in the day, the couple had tweeted denying all allegations. However, Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar came on record to say, “Raj Kundra has admitted to betting. He used to bet on his own team. We have also come to know that he has lost a lot of money in betting.
He used to bet through Goenka, who is also a bookie”. Police have confiscated the passports of Kundra and Goenka to ensure that they do not leave the country during investigations. According to sources, Kundra became one of the owners of the team in the third season of IPL. Reacting to police claims, Shilpa Shetty had tweeted earlier, “we love cricket, it’s the passion for the sport that made us a part of IPL. It’s extremely disheartening to keep clarifying that. For those who care, my apparent involvement in betting is complete nonsense and I have never bet on any cricket match ever.
Truth will prevail. I won’t be saying any more as the case is subjudice.” Police sources said Goenka, who was born in Sikkim, was in the sponge iron business but had suffered losses. As he stayed near the residence of Kundra’s mother in West Punjabi Bagh and knew each other, he became family friends and went to London where he met Kundra after his business collapsed. In 2008, he returned and started Ashwani Steel Private Ltd in Ahmedabad in which he has 16% stake while Kundra has 42% stake.
Sources said the name of Goenka, with whom Kundra owns a company dealing in steel business, came during the recording of statement of Trivedi, a prosecution witness in the case. In his statement recorded before a magistrate, sources said, Trivedi claimed that Goenka approached him and sought details about the cricket pitch in Ahmedabad and details about team formations.