The IPL founder, the fugitive: Who is Lalit Modi?

Once upon a time in Indian cricket, Lalit Modi was ‘the’ name on top of everyone’s lips. The Indian businessman and cricket administrator was after all the man behind the giant called the Indian Premier League.

Taking to his Instagram, Modi recently announced that he is dating first Indian Miss Universe actress, Sushmita Sen.

Modi, born in Delhi in 1963, was the founder, the first Chairman and the Commissioner of the Indian Premier League, which was started in 2008 on the back of India’s win in the first T20 World Cup in South Africa 2007.

The 58-year old had studied engineering and business administration in USA. In his days as a student, Modi had once been set up when he and his friends tried to buy cocaine and were robbed $10,000 by the seller. He took inspiration from the business of sports in USA and tried to bring it in cricket in India. In 1995, he had pitched the idea of a new 50-over domestic league, a project he had proposed by the names, Indian Cricket League Limited. The BCCI however, didn’t give much wind to the idea.

Modi held a strong clout in Indian politics as well, with close ties to Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) as well as Indian National Congress (INC). He was appointed as the Rajasthan Cricket Association President in 2005 under Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, who was a close friend of his.

In 2008, Modi was the face behind Indian Premier League’s inception, a league that mixed glamour with T20 format of cricket, and a league that would become the behemoth that it is today in world sports. In 2009, when IPL had to be shifted to South Africa following general elections in India, Modi proved how the value of the product would hold big value even outside India.

Shortly after the IPL 2010 final, Modi was suspended from BCCI after being accused of misconduct, indiscipline and financial irregularities in association with the two rigging bids over the two new franchises, Pune and Kochi. BCCI launched an investigation against him, and banned him for life in 2013 after a committee found him guilty of these charges.

He has since lived out of London, United Kingdom and given several interviews claiming innocence on all charges raised by the BCCI. A special court in Mumbai had issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against former Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman Lalit Modi in 2015 for his alleged involvement in a money-laundering case registered by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

As recently as March 2022, the UK High Court had also ordered Modi to pay $800,000 to former Indian model-turned-investor Gurpreet Gill Maag, over a legal challenge the latter had filed seeking damages amounting to millions of dollars from Indian Premier League (IPL) founder over alleged deceit and breach of contract. The court had however declined to pursue a deceit claim against Modi which was sought by Maag.

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