New Delhi: In another sensational twist in the IPL betting scandal, Delhi Police on Thursday claimed that Rajasthan Royals‘ owner Raj Kundra had “admitted” to placing bets on his own team through a bookie who is also his business partner and said he had been betting on games involving his team and others for the last two to three years.
News channels quoted sources as saying that a bookie arrested in the spot-fixing case had told the Delhi police that Shilpa Shetty was also involved in betting on the team of which she is a part owner.
The police is considering whether to record the statement of Shilpa Shetty in the case as well, CNN-IBN reported.
Police have confiscated Kundra‘s passport to ensure that he does not leave the country during investigations.
“He (Kundra) has admitted to betting. He used to bet on his own team. We have also come to know that he has lost a lot of money in betting. He used to bet through (Umesh) Goenka, who is also a bookie,” Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar said.
He also claimed that investigators have come to know that Kundra has lost a lot of money in betting.
Another senior police official told CNN-IBN that the duo had reportedly been betting for ”the last 2 to 3 years”.
Kundra has since flown back to Mumbai and will be quizzed again soon.
When asked why Kundra had been allowed to leave despite his involvement in betting, Special Police Commissioner SN Srivastava told CNN-IBN,”Our focus of this case is fixing and not on betting. At this stage, the evidence we have against RK and Goenka is that of betting. We are still in the process of collecting more evidence. And we’ll take a call as we proceed.”
Srivastava said that during interrogation it had emerged that besides matches involving Rajasthan Royals, Kundra had also placed bets on other matches.
“We’d like to ensure that we’re on a good, firm ground and then proceed,” Srivastava said, adding that they would be verifying the claims made by Kundra during the interrogation.
Kundra, a British national and husband of Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty, was questioned for 11 hours yesterday after cricketer Sidharth Trivedi told police that Kundra’s business partner-friend Umesh Goenka used to ask for information regarding team formation and pitches.
Kundra is the second IPL team owner after Chennai Super Kings‘ Gurunath Meiyappan who is in the dock for alleged betting. If the charges against the owners are proved, BCCI can give Rajathan Royals the boot from IPL.
The Delhi police chief also said they have not invoked MCOCA in the case to deny bail to players. “We have applied law based on the crime committed,” Kumar said.
“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.
Sources said the name of Goenka, with whom Kundra owns a company dealing in steel business, came during the recording of statement of Trivedi, a prosecution witness in the case.
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 per cent stake in the steel business with Goenka who has 16 per cent shares in the firm.
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.”
Players S Sreesanth, Ajit Chandela and Ankeet Chavan were arrested on charges of spot-fixing during the recent IPL tournament after which they were sacked by Rajasthan Royals.
Delhi Police had earlier created a stir by claiming that Sreesanth and the two other players had acted at the “command” of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and Chota Shakeel, among India’s most wanted, as it invoked the stringent MCOCA against 23 accused in the case.
Kundra owns 11.7 per cent stake in the team while Suresh Chelaram, co-brother of Lalit Modi, owns43 per cent. Manoj Badale has 34 per cent and Rupert Murdoch’s son Lalchan Murdoch also has stake in the team.
with inputs from PTI