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Indian cricket board suspends league boss

By Harmeet Shah Singh, CNN
  • Head of the Indian Premier League Lalit Modi suspended from his post
  • Suspension comes amid a scandal involving allegations of money laundering
  • NEW BCCI vice president Chirayu Amin to replace Modi as interim chairman.
  • Modi denies allegations of fund irregularities in his venture

New Delhi, India (CNN) -- The head of the Indian Premier League, billed as the world's richest cricket tournament, has been suspended from his post amid a scandal involving allegations of money laundering, a sport official said Monday.

"Oh, yes, yes," Ratnakar Shetty, the chief administrator official of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) that governs the sport in the country, told CNN when asked whether league chief Lalit Modi has been suspended as reported in local media.

Shetty did not elaborate on the official reason for the suspension. However, a Times of India report said Modi's tweet on the share-holding pattern of a new club was one of 22 charges that led to his suspension from the league he built two years ago.

In 2008, the league spiced up cricket with a maiden tournament of a shortened version of the sport

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Shashank Manohar, the president of the BCCI, announced on Monday that vice president Chirayu Amin would now replace Modi as interim chairman.

With business tycoons, movie actors, multinational advertisers, star international players and a billion viewers on its hook, the phenomenal project flourished through the global recession.

But this month, the league plunged into a crisis as it became the subject of a probe over allegations of money-laundering and betting.

"I can assure the honorable members that all aspects of (the) IPL, including its source of funding, from where the funds were routed, how they have been invested, etc., are being looked into and the appropriate action as per law will be taken," Indian finance minister Pranab Mukherjee told lawmakers in federal parliament last week.

"No guilty or wrongdoers will be spared," he said.

The alleged scam surfaced when Modi accused India's junior foreign minister Shashi Tharoor of using his position to secure a stake for a female friend in a $333 million bid for a new team. Modi allegedly made the accusation in a tweet on the social networking site, Twitter.

Tharoor denied wrongdoing, insisting he was only a "mentor" to the consortium that had bought the new club in last month's auction.

Nonetheless, the 54-year-old minister resigned as opposition pressure mounted on him to quit government.

Lawmakers from the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party and some of the country's powerful regional political outfits have slammed the league's cricket format. Some sought a complete ban on the league, while others demanded it be nationalized.

After Tharoor's exit from office, the focus shifted mainly to Modi, the man credited with raising the league as one of the world's hottest sporting properties.

He denies allegations of fund irregularities in his venture.

In a news statement Sunday, Modi sought to set the agenda for a key meeting of the league's governing council for Tuesday as its chairman and commissioner.

"On the agenda will be a discussion on any complaints received in writing from members of the governing council against the chairman, other members of the council and/or the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

"Members of the governing council have been requested to give all such complaints in writing with the requisite supporting documents at the meeting on the morning of 26th April, 2010 to the chairman and commissioner, so they can be replied in full," the statement read.