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India IPL chief Lalit Modi probed over corruption

23 April 10 06:17 GMT

Investigators have questioned the chief of the Indian Premier League (IPL) over allegations of corruption linked to the lucrative cricket tournament.

Reports say tax and foreign exchange officials interrogated Lalit Modi for hours - he denies any wrongdoing.

Separately, government investigations continued into the teams, sponsors, broadcasters and event managers associated with the event.

The IPL features some of the world's top cricketers.

Tax officials have already searched the offices of IPL teams Kolkata Knight Riders, Chennai Super Kings, Deccan Chargers in Delhi, Kings XI in Chandigarh and the yet unnamed team owned by Sahara.

Correspondents say the allegations of sleaze, illegal betting, favouritism and money laundering have gripped the nation in recent days.

The BBC's Soutik Biswas in Delhi says this is the worst crisis in Indian cricket since the match-fixing scandal involving senior national players in 2000.

Cricket board conflict

Separately Mr Modi has also questioned the right of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) - which also runs the IPL- to convene a meeting on Monday where, according to reports, a number of a members may ask him to step down.

But there have been questions about the impartiality of the board.

India's Sports Minister MS Gill said there was a question of conflict of interest for certain people who have interests in both the BCCI and the IPL: one selector is a brand ambassador for an IPL team, while another board member owns an IPL team.

"You can't be regulator, controller, owner of the team you are creating," Mr Gill said.

He said the government was giving tax concessions to the IPL and providing security for the matches.

"You have to charge from people benefiting commercially," he said.

The allegations were sparked off by a row between the IPL commissioner, Lalit Modi, and a government minister, Shashi Tharoor, over the ownership of a new IPL franchise.

Mr Tharoor was forced to resign after Mr Modi revealed that a close female friend of the minister was one of the stakeholders of the team for Kochi Mr Tharoor helped to set up.

Mr Tharoor denies any wrongdoing.

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

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