New Delhi/Mumbai: The Income Tax department plans to enlarge its current inquiry into the IPL’s financial transactions to cover all the franchises amidst allegations of murky deals even as it questioned the ‘mystery’ woman and Vijay Mallya’s daughter who works for IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi.
Laila Mahmood, the step daughter of Mallya who owns the Royal Challengers Bangalore team, was identified as the woman who exited Modi’s office in a plush hotel in Mumbai minutes before I-T officials visited it for probe on 15 April.
The IT authorities probing various aspects of the Indian Premier League controversy have been able to ascertain the identity of the ‘myster’ woman as Laila, a source in the department told PTI.
Mallya also said in a statement that “my step daughter Laila Mahmood works for Lalit Modi. I know nothing about this. I called Lalit Modi and he confirmed that she has given a statement to Income Tax.”
Suspecting that the woman, who was seen carrying what appeared like a laptop and some documents, might have carried away some important documents, the IT authorities got into action and identified her.
Notwithstanding claims by IPL commissioner Lalit Modi that it was routine questioning on 15 April by officials at the premises of BCCI and his office in umbai, I-T department sources said the special team has prepared a voluminous report on the operations and sent it to the Finance Ministry in Delhi.
Top sources said that in the wake of the report, plans were afoot to summon representatives of the various IPL team owners for questioning and for production of teams.
It may also include search operations on their officials premises, the source said adding it could be a long process, the sources said.
Officially there has been no word on the operations in Mumbai but sources said the department in Mumbai has been asked to carry out further inquiries and, if necessary, even surveys and raids on IPL premises and those of its franchises.
“We are widening our inquiry. However, it will take some time before we obtain all details about IPL’s transactions,” the sources said.
Earlier indications were that only the new franchisees Kochi and Pune could be investigated but now the department may be expected to scrutinise the bid process of all the franchises in the wake of allegations about the sourcing of the funds of the teams.
Asked about the ’mystery’ woman, Modi suggested that his staff could have brought papers for him from a hotel room which was caught on close circuit TV before tax officials went there.
“All I know is I was not at the hotel (Four Seasons where he reportedly has a temporary office). They (staff) do bring things to me in my office... because the I-T has asked us to bring some documents, it must be...,” he said when asked about reports that a woman removed important documents from the hotel in Mumbai before the I-T officials came there.
To another query, he said did not know whether his lap-top has been taken away by officials. “I have no idea about it, who has taken what,” he said.
Modi said the I-T officials were doing a job and he had no problems with that. “We have nothing to hide. The I-T has asked us information, that’s fine. There is no reason to be upset about”.
He reiterated the charge that union minister Shashi Tharoor stepped into the picture and asked him not to go into the details of the shareholders when he had put some questions to those who had come on behalf of the bid.
“I was just sitting in the room and asking all shareholders who the shareholders are. It became an issue when the shareholders did not know the names of other shareholders. That’s when the red flag was raised, when I asked who these people are.
“At that point of time they said they did not know who they were. They made a call to their father. Shailendra Gaikwad made a phone call to his father. At that point of time, he said he will get back to us. Then the phone call that came back to us was that of Mr Tharoor who said why are you inquiring into these items. At that point of time I still did not know whether these four people were linked or not”, Modi said.
The IPL commissioner said he was signing the documents subject to confirmation but next day he saw in a Mumbai newspaper a news item (appararently referring to a reported proposal of Tharoor marrying his friend Sunanda Pushkar).
Asked how the conversation ended, he said the conversation did not end and he told Tharoor that he was recording the conversation.
“We have minuted it. It is in black and white. There is nothing to worry”, he said.