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After drugs, money laundering taint hits Punjab kabaddi

First it was a dubious link to an international synthetic drugs racket and now another accusation has come - money laundering.
IANS | By HT Correspondent, Chandigarh
UPDATED ON MAR 03, 2014 06:58 PM IST

First it was a dubious link to an international synthetic drugs racket and now another accusation has come - money laundering.

Punjab's traditional sport of kabaddi would have been better off without either of the two, but that does seem to be happening now. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has asked the Punjab government to furnish records of the World Kabaddi Cup organised.

The CBI, which recently booked owners and directors of realty company Pearls Group in an alleged Rs 45,000-crore agricultural land scam, has turned its focus on the World Kabaddi Cup, an event of the Punjab government.

Pearls Group dir had brush with CBI earlier too

There are allegations that the tournament was funded by private sponsors through black money.

The Pearls Group had sponsored mega Kabaddi event for three years, and was the idea of Deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal.

CBI officials investigating the money laundering by the Pearls realty group want to probe how several crores of rupees were spent by the group on the event.

While the Pearls group claim that it funded the World Kabaddi Cup with up to Rs 35 crore, the same has not been reflected by the Punjab government and the event's organising committee in its records. The Pearls group is owned by Nirmal Singh Bhangoo, who hails from Punjab.

"The CBI has asked the Punjab government to submit all records of the Kabaddi cup, along with the funding provided by the Pearls group and has asked to submit the records in one week," a CBI source told IANS.

The last edition of the World Kabaddi Cup was held in December 2013 and cash prizes of a total of Rs.6 crore were given to teams.

Kabaddi teams from over 20 countries participated in the tournament. Crores of rupees were spent by various agencies of the Punjab government in organising matches in stadiums across Punjab for 15 days.

At least four people of Punjab origin based in Canada were under the scanner of Punjab Police for helping out international wrestler-turned-police officer-turned-drugs kingpin Jagdish Bhola in his drugs network.

Those investigated included Vancouver-based promoter of the Azadi Kabaddi Club, Dara Singh Mathoda, former kabaddi player Sarabjit Singh alias Nick based in Delta, British Columbia (Canada), Nirankara Singh Dhillon based in Brampton-Ontario (Canada) and Harbans Sidhu based in Toronto. Dhillon is the father-in-law of Kulwant Singh, who was arrested in another multi-million-dollar drugs racket run by NRI Anoop Singh Kahlon.

Mathoda used to organise a cash-rich Kabaddi tournament in his village near Phagwara town, 150 km from here, annually. In 2012, the first prize for the winner of the village kabaddi tournament was a SUV car.

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