British Indian businessman and Indian Premier League (IPL) team owner Raj Kundra violated the IPL’s anti-corruption rules due to his close links with bookies, a high-level panel has found.
The Justice Mudgal Committee, headed by retired High Court judge Mukul Mudgal, was appointed by the Supreme Court of India earlier this year to probe allegations of match fixing during the 2013 edition of the IPL.
Among those investigated were wealthy industrialist and former president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) N Srinivasan and fellow businessmen Gurunath Meiyappan, co-owner of the IPL’s Chennai Superkings Franchise and Mr Kundra, co-owner of the Rajasthan Royals team.
The Mudgal panel found that London-born Mr Kundra, 39, was in touch with bookies, placed bets against his own team and violated the anti-corruption code of both the BCCI and IPL.
The panel further found that an initial investigation into Mr Kundra’s dealings with bookies had been “abruptly halted” by Rajasthan police. He was also friends with a known fixer, the panel found.
Both Srinivasan and Meiyappan were cleared of so-called “spot fixing” – betting on specific elements within a cricket match.
However, the panel criticized Mr Srinivasan, considered one of the most powerful men in cricket and currently chairman of the International Cricket Council, for not doing enough to crack down on betting within the IPL.
In June, Mr Kundra vehemently denied allegations that he had bet against his own team even as Delhi police seized his British passport as the Mudgal investigation was launched.
Kundra is said to have incurred “significant losses” after betting against the Royals.
Kundra, whose second wife is the Bollywood starlet Shilpa Shetty, was questioned for 12 hours by police in early June over links between bookies and Royals players, reportedly telling police that the players had taken bookies into their hotel rooms saying they were “personal friends”.
Under IPL rules, team owners – Kundra owns 12% of the Royals – can be suspended and the franchise terminated if they are found to have brought the game into disrepute through activities such as betting.
Team owners are also obliged to be aware of interactions between players and unknown individuals.
Information on Kundra came to light during the interrogation of his friend and business associate Umesh Goenka, who is alleged to have tried to obtain information on team tactics and strategy from several Royals players.
Goenka is a partner in Kundra’s Ahmedabad-based metals business and was a visible presence during numerous Royals matches alongside Kundra and wife Shilpa.
Apart from the Rajasthan Royals, Kundra is also a founder and shareholder in the Indian Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Super Fight League and has business interests in Dubai, the Ukraine and East India.