Rajasthan Royals on Friday said co-owner Raj Kundra will be suspended and forfeit his shares if he is found guilty of betting on the team. Royals in a statement said Kundra is a minority shareholder with only 11.7 percent stake and has no involvement in the running of the franchise. The statement came on a day when Delhi Police said Kundra's wife and co-owner of Royals, Shilpa Shetty, placed bets of Rs 1 lakh on a Twenty20 match; and investigators said they do not believe her husband's statement that he lost Rs 1 crore in betting.
Both Kundra and Shetty have denied allegations against them. Police sources told PTI that they may quiz Kundra again and call Shetty for questioning if there is a need. Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar said Kundra is not the focus of their investigation, adding, "We are yet to decide on Shetty. We always keep our options open. Ours is not a short term investigation which are going to close in the next two or three days. It's going to take time. Let us see how things unfold."
"As a franchise, we have always been clear that the same rules apply to players, management or owners. As such, our actions will be consistent as in the case of the spot fixing allegations with respect to our players. Raj Kundra is a minority (11.7 percent) shareholder, and he has no involvement in the running of the franchise," said the Royals' statement.
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"We believe that Raj Kundra is a law abiding citizen and would not act contrary to law. If however, he is proven guilty, or has breached any regulations, he will be suspended, and he will also forfeit his shares. This is a strict governance procedure agreed to by all Rajasthan Royals shareholders, and it is consistent with our zero tolerance approach," it added.
The statement issued by Rajasthan Royals chairman Ranjit Barthakur and CEO Raghu Iyer on behalf of the franchise also said, "We remain committed to our fans and sponsors, and we remain focused and fully committed to working with the authorities to complete their reviews." The franchise reiterated that they are co-operating with the authorities to ensure a thorough inquiry in the case.
"In the last few days, various members of the RR management have been assisting the Delhi Police in their investigation for a better appreciation and understanding of the matter. As we have stated before, we are cooperating with the authorities to ensure a thorough inquiry and will continue to share any such information that they may seek from us in the future. We are working hard as co-complainants to ensure that all information is made available to the authorities."
The Royals' statement comes a day after Delhi Police said Kundra had admitted to betting in the Indian Premier League for the last two-three years. Kundra, however, claimed that he hasn't done anything wrong.
Earlier on Friday, Kumar said Kundra cannot be arrested as they do not have any material evidence against him.
"Kundra has admitted of his involvement in some betting or some games of chance. But there is no evidence to support his disclosure. Without supportive evidence, we cannot arrest anyone on the ground of suspicion," Kumar said.
The Delhi Police chief also said they needed some "material evidence" against Kundra.
"In the case of the players... we had the video footage to match whatever transpired during the telephonic conversation. If that kind of evidence would have been there in respect of Kundra then we would have thought of arresting him," he told a news channel.
"As far as our investigations are concerned, we will go after somebody if we have the material evidence to back our investigation with," he added.
Kundra's admission that he placed bets has also put the very existence of Rajasthan Royals in danger. In the BCCI-IPL contract, clause 11.3 (c) of the franchise agreement states that a franchise may be terminated with immediate effect if "the franchisee, any franchisee group company and/or any owner acts in any way which has a material adverse effect upon the reputation or standing of the league, BCCI-IPL, BCCI, the franchisee, the team (or any other team in the league) and/or the game of cricket."
The BCCI has called an emergency meeting of its working committee in New Delhi on June 10 to discuss the fate of the team which is captained by Rahul Dravid.
"We have taken cognisance of the Raj Kundra issue. We are going to discuss it in our meeting on June 10 and if necessary, stringent measures will be taken," BCCI interim head Jagmohan Dalmiya told reporters late on Thursday.
Rajasthan Royals have already been thrown out of the IPL before because of ownership issues. But the 2010 decision was reversed when an Indian court overturned the expulsion.
The Delhi Police said Kundra confessed that he placed bets through his business partner Umesh Goenka in the last three seasons of the IPL. "Kundra used to place bets for the past three years. Kundra placed bets with Goenka. Goenka was a bookie and forwarded bets to others on behalf of Kundra," a senior police official told CNN-IBN on Thursday.
Kumar told CNN-IBN on Thursday that Kundra had not been given a clean chit. He, however, ruled out his arrest. "We don't have evidence against Raj Kundra, so we can't arrest him," Kumar said, adding that there was no evidence to link Kundra to spot-fixing either.
Kumar said the fact that Kundra is a British national doesn't affect the investigation into the case. Kundra was on Wednesday allowed to leave for Mumbai only after surrendering his passport to the Delhi Police. Kundra has been asked not to leave the country.
Kundra was questioned for almost 12 hours by the police on Wednesday.
Information on Kundra came to light during the interrogation of Goenka, who reportedly used to ask Rajasthan Royal players about strategy, team composition, pitch situation and even things like the possible winner of a match.
Delhi Police recorded Goenka's statement under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) in front of a magistrate. This bars him from retracting his statement.
Kundra is Goenka's partner in his steel ingots manufacturing business called Ashwini Steel Private Limited in Ahmedabad.
Delhi Police have arrested 26 people, including Rajasthan Royals team players S. Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan.
While 24 people have been sent to judicial custody, Sreesanth's friend Abhishek Shukla is on bail and bookie Tinku Mandy has been handed over to Mumbai Police.
All the 26 people arrested by Delhi Police were on Tuesday booked under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act. Altogether, 60 people have been arrested across the country in connection with the IPL spot fixing scam. (With agency inputs)