Rajasthan Royals co-owner Raj Kundra has added a sensational twist to the T20 league scandal, "admitting" before the police that he placed bets on his team through his business partner Umesh Goenka.
Kundra’s wife and Bollwood actor Shilpa Shetty too has come under the scanner. Goenka has reportedly told the police she asked him to place a bet in a match.
The police confiscated Kundra’s passport to ensure he does not leave the country during investigations. According to sources, Shetty too might be questioned.
The police also claimed they were verifying a claim that Kundra had lost Rs 1 crore in the past three years in betting on T20 matches.
Kundra, a British national and the first T20 league team owner to be questioned, was interrogated for 11 hours on Wednesday, a day after his team’s player Siddharth Trivedi told the police that Goenka used to inquire about team formation and pitches.
In his statement recorded before a magistrate, sources said, Trivedi claimed that Goenka approached him and sought details about the cricket pitch in Ahmedabad and details about team formations.
Kundra has 42% stake in the steel business with Goenka who has 16% shares in the firm.
If the charges against the owners are proved, the BCCI can cancel the T20 League contract of the Rajathan Royals.
Former BCCI secretary Sanjay Jagdale, who recently resigned from the BCCI, termed Kundra’s admission "really shocking" and "another instance of damaging the faith Indian fans have in the sport".
"These are the lessons the BCCI will have to learn. The sooner they do it, the better it will be. They need to sit together and give top priority to cleaning the system," he said.
Three Royals players, including pacer S Sreesanth, and 23 others were on Tuesday charged under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), enacted in 1999 to tackle organised crime, possibly to make it difficult for them to get a bail.
But Kumar said the police had no such intention and applied the law according to the nature of the crime. "There are reports that it has been slapped to prevent bail. But there is no such intention. We would apply the laws which are applicable in a case according to the nature of the crime," he said.
Earlier in the day before Kumar's remarks, Kundra had tweeted, "Good morning woke up to news Raj Kundra faces the heat. Yes it's very hot in Mumbai. Media has misconstrued everything using unreliable sources. Try speaking to the main guys at crime branch. Why does media hype things and make such stupid claims to sell news."
"Is there an arrest warrant? I am back home in Mumbai. Kindly let Delhi crime branch do their work. media stop using derogatory statements," he said.
His wife and actress Shilpa Shetty also lashed out in her tweets. "Get the real story rather than ure PAID (unreliable) sources. Just to reiterate, we will do all it takes to reach to the bottom of this "spot fixing case" and be of complete help till that happens."