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India launches probe into IPL tax and financing

19 April 10 15:45 GMT

India has ordered an investigation into the financing of the Indian Premier League (IPL) following allegations of corruption in the cricket tournament.

The move follows the resignation of junior foreign minister Shashi Tharoor amid controversy over his role in bidding for one of the IPL's new teams.

India's finance minister said "no wrong-doer would be spared" in the probe into the league's funding.

But IPL chief Lalit Modi denies any allegations of funding irregularities.

Mr Modi has described the claims as "absolutely baseless".

Opposition lawmakers in parliament have alleged that the league has been used for money laundering and illegal betting.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee told parliament that tax authorities had already begun an investigation.

"All aspects including sources of funding and routes through which the funds arrived would be looked into," he said.

Indian cricket's governing body also said it would meet to discuss the allegations against the tournament.

Media reports suggest there are plans to force Lalit Modi from his office.

The IPL has become a multi-billion dollar industry, which attracts some of India's wealthiest businessmen and women.

Cricket's popularity with the Indian masses means that politicians are also keen to get involved with the sport, BBC correspondents say.

Public spat

Mr Tharoor resigned on Sunday after a row over allegations that a female friend, Dubai-based businesswoman Sunanda Pushkar, received a free stake in a new IPL franchise.

He denies any wrongdoing in the bid for the new Kochi cricket team, to be based in his home state of Kerala.

Mr Tharoor claimed he was just a mentor for the team and denied allegations that he was set to benefit financially.

He and Ms Pushkar say the stake was awarded as "sweat equity" in return for marketing and professional services to the new franchise - but Ms Pushkar has now offered to surrender the stake.

His resignation followed a public spat between Lalit Modi, the head of the IPL, and Mr Tharoor over ownership of the new cricket team for Kochi.

Kochi was sold to Rendezvous Sports World Limited for $333m at auction. It and Pune are to join the IPL from 2011, taking the total number of teams to 10.

Meanwhile in Bangalore, officials are angry that this week's semi-finals have been moved to Mumbai for security reasons.

Politicians and police in the city say they were not consulted about the move, which followed two small bombs before a game on Saturday.

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