The controversy surrounding spot-fixing in the T20 league got murkier on Friday with Chennai Super Kings (CSK) team principal Gurunath Meiyappan allegedly claiming that he had once been "warned" by an official from the Anti Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) of the International Cricket Council (ICC) during the tournament.
Meiyappan, who is in the custody of the Mumbai police crime branch for his alleged links with actor Vindoo Dara Singh, who allegedly doubled up as a sub-bookie, has made the revelations during questioning, a senior crime branch official said.
According to the official, following the receipt of the warning in April, Meiyappan spoke to Vindoo over phone briefly and informed the latter about the same. "Be careful, I have been warned by the ICC," Meiyappan had told Vindoo, the official said.
"As per Meiyappan's claims, he had been warned verbally by the ACSU official," he added. Asked if Meiyappan had identified the ICC official, the crime branch official said, "Yes, he has. But without verifications, we would not like to disclose."
The crime branch official said that though Meiyappan was silent on the context or content of the warning, "he presumed it has to do with the player movement or the conduct of team officials. However, he did not dare ask anything to the ICC official," the crime branch official said.
Asked if Meiyappan stopped speaking to Vindoo or refrained from passing him crucial match information following the warning, the official said, " even after this (warning) he (Meiyappan) continued his interaction with Vindoo."
Vindoo too has admitted to have been told by Meiyappan of the ICC warning, the official claimed. Asked if the crime branch has in its possession the telephone intercepts of the said conversation between Vindoo and Meiyappan, the crime branch official refused to answer. He however, said that the crime branch might seek a corroboration of Meiyappan's claims on the issue from the ICC at a later stage. "That will be done in due process," he added.
Meiyappan is turning out to be a tough nut to crack for the Mumbai crime branch, sources said. Each time Meiyappan is questioned he answers: "It is my view, and it is not betting. As team owner, I have the right to have my own view", said highly-placed police sources. The crime branch which wants more information from Meiyappan, produced him before the court along with Vindoo, hawala operator Alpesh Patel and Prem Taneja on Friday. The four were remanded to further police custody till June 3.
Though the defence lawyers fervently pushed for remanding them to judicial custody in a packed courtroom which included Vindoo's wife, Dina Umarova, addl metropolitan magistrate AA Khan, went with the prosecution's contention that further custody of the accused persons would be necessary to probe their alleged links with absconding bookies.