Why the BCCI should investigate Dhoni's 'business interests'

Mahendra Singh Dhoni is arguably the biggest corporate brand in India. Yes, Sachin Tendulkar might have something to say about that, but he doesn't play all the formats of the game now and won't even play the IPL starting next season. In the years to come, Virat Kohli might give Dhoni some competition.

So Dhoni stands above all and what has he done with this domination?

Well, for starters, according to an Economic Times article, "... a 15% stake bought by Dhoni earlier this year in the sports marketing firm (Rhiti Sports Management) that manages him has spawned a tangled web of business associations, raising issues of propriety and conflict of interest in at least two situations."

 Why the BCCI should investigate Dhonis business interests

Is Dhoni guilty of conflict of interest by buying a stake in the sports management company? PTI

Dhoni buying a stake in the sports marketing firm that manages him is not wrong in itself. But when the firm also manages Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Pragyan Ojha and RP Singh -- a host of issues crop up.

As Firstpost had pointed out in October 2011:

"Many were surprised by Rudra Pratap Singh’s call-up for the tour of England. The left-arm seamer arrived looked well-rested and plump and even though the selectors tried hard, they just couldn’t hide the fact that he was clearly unfit.

So how did he get into the squad? Of course, it helps if the skipper (Dhoni) likes you but it helps even more if you are managed by the same company that manages Dhoni. The management company, Rhiti Sports Management, is in turn run by Arun Pandey – Dhoni’s childhood friend and manager. It’s all in the family, if you know what we mean.

Shockingly, Anurag Thakur, joint secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) told Economic Times that he had never heard of this allegation.

"I have heard it for the first time," said Anurag Thakur. "If there is a concern, we may look into the matter."

Whether Thakur acknowledges it or not, there is concern. But the BCCI seems like it would rather sit back and wait for some scandal to force their hand.

In July 2010, when Dhoni was seeking a new contract to manage his career he didn't go with  a veteran marketing firm. But instead, he went with Rhiti Sports and his friend Arun Pandey. Dhoni signed a three-year deal with Rhiti Sports for Rs 210 crore, or an average of Rs 70 crore a year, the highest ever in Indian cricket.

According to the Economic Times, "in 2011-12, the latest year for which numbers are available and the first full financial year of the deal, Rhiti Sports recorded revenues of Rs 63 crore and a net profit of Rs 2.5 crore."

The report adds: "The shares were allotted at par value, which means Dhoni paid Rs 3 lakh for the 15.1% stake." (Check out the charts below)

Basically put, he got them pretty cheap/ However, while the BCCI has chosen to procrastinate acting on it, some voices of opposition have already spoken out.

"I have come to know through various sources and newspapers that Dhoni has 15% stakes in Rhiti Sports which is contracting a few players in the Indian team. He also has a position of Vice President in India Cements. So I don't know if its a conflict of interest or not that I'm sure the board will tell us," former India cricketer Kirti Azad said.

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Updated Date: Jun 04, 2013 10:00:43 IST