Tuesday, April 27, 2010

IPL:Billion-dollar deal papers go missing

This isn't just another missing document. Among the scores of papers that have allegedly gone missing from the BCCI headquarters here, are the papers relating to the highly controversial $1.64 billion TV rights contract between BCCI, Multi-Screen Media (MSM) and World Sports Group (WSG) involving a suspect "facilitation" fee of $80 million. They are not with BCCI, nor apparently with suspended IPL chief Lalit Modi.

The contract deals with IPL TV rights for nine years from 2009 onwards that were renegotiated after the original deal signed in 2008 for $1.02 billion was terminated. Papers of such a huge contract are normally kept with care for future reference so that it is observed by the parties concerned in letter and spirit.Income-tax authorities are looking for these papers, and the BCCI is flabbergasted by their absence. The suspended IPL chief is understood to have been the key person who negotiated this tripartite deal between BCCI and MSM — a Sony subsidy — and WSG (Mauritius).

BCCI sources said the papers were simply not there and admitted that the deal was very suspicious as after the 2008 contract was cancelled, the rights were parked with WSG (Mauritius) for a few days before being given back to MSM. In a recent interaction with BCCI, a senior Sony representative said MSM had been threatened with loss of telecast rights.
BCCI members said that along with the WSG-MSM contract, papers related to digital, image rights awarded to Global Cricket Ventures — a firm held by Elephant Capital where Modi's step son-in-law Gaurav Burman has a stake with his brother — are also untraceable.

As for the broadcast deal, the facilitation fee of $80 million which MSM had agreed to pay WSG translates into Rs 425 crore. Out of this, Rs 125 crore has been paid, and the remaining amount was to be paid over the next seven years. The decision to park rights with a company in a tax haven is seen as a bid to facilitate payments in a manner where tracing the end beneficiaries would be near impossible.

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