Former IPL chairman Lalit Modi was found using at least eight credit cards issued by foreign banks but none of them were in his own name. Five of these cards were found to be issued to family members of his brother-in-law Suresh Chellaram and two in the name of his step-daughter Karima.
Former IPL chief Lalit Modi row:
When the income tax department sought details of expenditure made from these cards for the period between April 2008 and March 2011 during which he was part of BCCI and the IPL, Modi claimed that all expenditure was made towards booking air tickets and hotels for his friends who owned the credit cards.
Lalit Modi was instrumental in launching the Indian Premier League (IPL), a league based around Twenty20 cricket, where each team is limited to batting for a maximum of 20 overs.
The BBC has compared Lalit Modi to Don King and Bernie Ecclestone, because of the commercial success of the Indian Premier League. Since its inception in 2008, the IPL has grown into one of the world’s biggest sports, worth over US$4 billion.
In 2008, Lalit Modi founded the Champions League, with teams from India, Australia, England, South Africa, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and West Indies all taking part.
The competition was launched as a response to the success of national Twenty20 domestic cricket leagues, most notably the Indian Premier League, which was also founded by Lalit Modi. The first tournament was held in 2009.
The recovery of credit card details was made during a search of Modi’s premises and on examination of his mobile phone by income tax officials after he fled to London.
According to a notice served by the I-T department to Modi in July 2011, it has emerged that the former IPL chief had used two credit cards belonging to Kavita Chellaram, wife of Suresh Chellaram who once owned majority shares in Rajasthan Royals IPL team, and two owned by his step-daughter Karima who is married to Gaurav Burman, the co-owner of Kings XI Punjab.
In his response to the I-T notice, posted by Modi on his website, he claimed “none of the cards, as mentioned in the I-T questionnaire, belongs to the assessee (Modi)”.
He furnished the card owners’ names. Three belonged to Kavita Chellaram and were issued by the National Westminster Bank PLC, UK and American Express Service Europe Ltd. Two cards belonged to step-daughter Karima, again issued by the same two banks.
One card each was in the name of Aditya Chellaram, Anisha Chellaram and Vijay Israni. No expenditure details were available. However, Modi has claimed these cards were used for “upgrade of air travel tickets of friends, and to make hotel bookings etc for the said credit card holders”.
Modi claimed that he received advantage points/discounted rates for room reservations in several hotels and, therefore, used to make reservations on behalf of the said NRI card holders.
However,he clarified that while he only made such reservations, payments were made by the persons in whose name such reservations were made through their credit cards. “It is for this reason that various persons had sent their card details for upgrading airline tickets, hotel reservations etc which was found from mobile and room of the assessed (Modi),” he claimed.