Before wrapping up its investigation into the involvement of the 13 names - submitted to the Supreme Court - in the IPL fixing scandal, the Justice Mukul Mudgal Committee questioned former sports promoter Aushim Khetarpal and India skipper MS Dhoni's friend-cum-manager, Arun Pandey, who quit Air India last year as a junior officer.
"The committee had also called Pandey," a BCCI official aware of the developments claimed. "They questioned him on how much money he had offered Dhoni when his company signed the India skipper and where that money came from. The committee also asked about his business relations with Dhoni and whether he had stakes in Rithi Sports (Pandey's sports management firm)."
Pandey, however, refused to confirm or deny deposing before the Mudgal Committee, whose investigation was led by BB Mishra, the deputy director general of the Narcotics Control Bureau. "The committee also asked how many companies Dhoni endorsed and whether any of them were involved in construction or real estate business," the official claimed.
Former sports promoter and actor, Khetarpal, who in the past has been alleged to be involved in match-fixing, was also questioned around the time India played the West Indies in an ODI in Delhi earlier this month.
"That meeting went for around 25 minutes at the team hotel. They asked me about my business relationship with Pandey. I told them we had a brief partnership in 2007. That was the time when we had signed RP Singh. But within two months we decided to end our partnership," Khetarpal claimed.
In 1999, former England pacer Chris Lewis claimed that Khetarpal offered him big money to fix a match. Former New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming too wrote in his biography 'Balance of Power' that, "Khetarpal said he would pay me 200,000 euros (Rs 1.5 crore) if I joined the syndicate." "I also told the committee how Fleming wanted to tank a match against Zimbabwe," Khetarpal told HT.
Fleming is coach of the Chennai Super Kings for the past six years after joining them as a player in the inaugural season. Dhoni and Pandey are old friends and both played for Air India. Pandey started Rithi Sports in 2007. Other than Dhoni, Rithi manages Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja and Pragyan Ojha.
It has been reported in a section of media that the committee also examined Dhoni and few other players. In May this year, the apex court had instructed the Mudgal Committee to investigate the contents of the sealed envelope. The list includes the name of suspended BCCI president N Srinivasan. His son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan was arrested by the Mumbai Police for illegal betting in the IPL. Meiyappan refused to depose before the committee stating that the matter was sub judice.