Bollywood gets pulled into spot-fixing probe

Updated: May 21, 2013, 9:24 PM IST
Bollywood gets pulled into spot-fixing probe

New Delhi: Exposing the Bollywood connection in the IPL spot-fixing scandal, police on Tuesday arrested actor Vindoo Dara Singh for his alleged links with the betting mafia even as three players and seven bookies, accused of spot-fixing, were sent to five-day police custody. A hawala operator Aplesh Patel was also arrested along with Vindoo on a day when police recovered expensive clothes and a BlackBerry Z10 from the house of accused S Sreesanth's friend in Jaipur.

However, the Supreme Court of India refused to ban the IPL as a game and as a league, observing that the "problem is the lackadaisical approach of the BCCI and it must stop". The apex court directed the one man commission appointed by the The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to look into IPL irregularities and submit its report within two weeks.

As investigations gained pace, Delhi Police recovered Sreesanth's clothing worth Rs 1.95 lakh and the new BlackBerry from his friend's house in Jaipur, all bought from the spot-fixing money and all paid with cash. The police are now going through all of former Rajasthan Royals player's expenditures and are inspecting the bills.

"He bought clothes, including denims, worth Rs 1.95 lakh from Diesel Store in Mumbai. He paid the full amount in cash. We have recovered these clothes. We have documents to prove that he used the money from spot-fixing to buy these articles," an official said.

While Delhi Police recovered Sreesanth's belongings, Mumbai Police arrested Vindoo and hawala operator Patel. Sources said that Patel was in touch with all the bookies who have so far figured in the case and he can help them establish the money trail of the scandal. He allegedly ensured inflow and outflow of money from Pakistan to India via Dubai for the purpose of betting. Patel was actively involved in the hawala transactions for which he used to charge anything between 0.25 and 0.5 per cent for each transaction.

Meanwhile, Virendra Darasingh Randhawa alias Vindoo was picked up from his suburban Juhu residence for his alleged links with the bookies, who were already arrested by the Mumbai crime branch. Vindoo was also into betting, Joint Commissioner (Crime) Himanshu Roy told reporters.

"Vindoo was questioned after he was found to be in contact with the bookies and subsequently arrested today. His custodial interrogation will continue," Roy said after a metropolitan court remanded him and two others in police custody till May 24.

Crime Branch sources claimed that 49-year-old Vindoo, winner of reality television show Bigg Boss season 3, was in touch with some bookies arrested in the scandal and was himself into betting. He was on many occasions spotted watching IPL matches and attending post-match parties. His arrest is the first from Bollywood in connection with the latest scandal to hit Indian cricket.

Prem Taneja, a conduit for bookies, was arrested from immigration area at the Mumbai international airport while he was trying to flee to Dubai. Taneja was in close contact with Vindoo.

Investigators added Section 409 (criminal breach of trust) to the case against 18 players and bookies arrested in the scandal after IPL franchise Rajasthan Royals filed a formal complaint with Delhi Police. This section entails a punishment of life imprisonment.

A Delhi court also remanded Sreesanth and 10 others to five more days in police custody in IPL spot-fixing case while sending four others to judicial custody. Today's developments came a day after police seized Rs 20 lakh from Chandila's cricket kit from his aunt's house in Haryana's Palwal. Sreesanth was taken to Jaipur last evening and brought back to Delhi today.

(With Additional Inputs from PTI)

First Published: May 21, 2013, 9:24 PM IST

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