New Delhi: Suspended IPL chairman Lalit Modi on Thursday said his ouster as the IPL boss was part of a witch-hunt by people who are "jealous of his success" and that he will return to India only when he is convinced of his security.
In his first major interview since his unceremonious exit, Modi defended himself of any wrongdoing and said his family and friends had invested in IPL teams only because nobody else was convinced with the concept.
In the lengthy interview, Modi spoke of how people with vested interest in the BCCI tried to pull him down and how he had spent money from his own pocket to make the IPL a huge success.
"I can very clearly tell you that I have not pocketed any money from the IPL. I created something out of nothing. The BCCI had benefited, will benefit in the next ten years in excess of USD 2 billion. This is something of an initiative that I took on my own, as an honorary member and I did not do it for myself, and the benefit 100 per cent accrued to the BCCI," Modi said.
"What I did is absolutely by the book. Currently whatever is on is like a witch hunt and you know I'd rather not comment on it.
"There's a lot of jealousy all around and it was more than meets the eye. It's not only about the IPL; it's about the running of the BCCI. There are vested groups out there trying to take control and there is more to it but I'd rather not get into that right now," he added.
The combative Modi, who has been out of the country ever since his removal as IPL chairman, said that his security advisors have instructed him not to return to India because of death threat.
"I will return to India as and when I feel secure. My security agencies have advised me that it's not appropriate time currently to go back till the security situation smoothens out. And the Indian police have continuously told me yes, that the threat perception continues to be there and as and when I feel comfortable with that factor, I would go back," he said.
Modi also made it clear that he had never intended to get former Minister of States for external affairs Sashi Tharoor sacked but had only wanted to bring the truth out.
"It wasn't intended to embarrass anybody. It was the intention of that to get the truth out there; it wasn't intended to ridicule, embarrass a minister or the government.
"I'm sorry that it happened but at the end of the day you've got to understand that the events leading to Kochi are still subjudice. I wouldn't like to, at this point in time, actually get into the nitty gritties and the details of what actually happened," he said.
Tharoor got embroiled in the controversy when it came to light that her close friend Sunanda Pushkar, with whom he married recently, had sweat equity in Kochi Franchisee and that the minister had interest in the franchisee.
Modi is facing probe by Enforcement Directorate, BCCI Disciplinary Committee and the Chennai Police for allegedly rigging bids for the franchises and pocketing money from the IPL broadcast deal, beside other financial irregularities.
Modi said BCCI was aware about the entire bidding process, including that some of his relatives were involved.
"When somebody turns around and says that they didn't know about it, it's absolutely a false story... I mean everybody concerned from the governing council to the BCCI members were very much present in the room and in fact everybody was just happy at that point in time because we got eight bids," he said.
"In fact, you had my Vice Chairman Niranjan Shah who was questioned immediately after the auction and said 'Mr Modi's relatives have bid', he said 'so what, there are no other bidders out there and if he has bid, he has put his own money in', if it wasn't friends and family that are coming to bid and come into and believe in the product, they wouldn't have had the IPL in the first place," he said.
Modi denied the allegations that he influenced the bid process as he wanted Adani Group and Videocon to win the franchisees for season-IV.
"How do you rig the process? It's an open bid; it's a tender process. You put the tender in, highest person wins. If that was the case, why did Adani not win? Why did Videocon not win? Sahara went and won it for 370 million because it was an open process. Kochi went and won. If it was going to be a rigged process, they (Adani and Videocon) would have won."
Modi said he is confident that he will come out clean.
"It's going to end by me getting a clean slate," he said.
Explaining the Kochi row, which eventually cost him and Union minister Tharoor their jobs, Modi said, "For the first time, I found that an agreement had been submitted by a party where they had a 25 per cent sweat equity clause in there and that clause, irrespective of the capitalisation was going to ask the other 75 per cent shareholders to pay for losses over the next decade of decades.
"It's business at the end of the day for them and today you must support it for other various reasons but sooner down the line, it's going to become business and your accountant's going to tell you 'guys, you're going to be bankrupt' or 'you've got to pump in more money," he said.
Modi also spoke about controversial IPL television rights deal with World Sports Group due to which BCCI said it suffered loses to the tune of USD 80 million.
"When we went out to market the rights of IPL, you'd be surprised there was one bidder and that one bidder was World Sports Group. Sony actually bid and withdrew their bid prior to the bids even opening. ESPN bid, but they'd put zero number on the table so that their bid was disqualified," Modi said.
"The only company that actually put any money on the table above the minimum guarantee amount was World Sports Group in the round one and that's ... and then they did a back-to-back licensing deal with Sony.
"A marketing company's job is to buy and sell rights. So if they bought a right that's close to USD two billion as an example and they sold it for two billion eighty to somebody as an example, and they made USD 80 million over a ten year period, what's wrong with that?" he asked.
Modi also defended his lavish lifestyle saying he managed his expenses on his own.
"All costs that are related to my staying in a hotel or travelling or cars are all mine, you know, BCCI may have provided a car here or there in a particular city but they all charge it back to me.
"I fly on my own accord, I stay in hotels on my own cost, I run the IPL on my own time, I have people working in the IPL that are my personal staff which I pay for and that is my contribution. In fact, I'm paying for it, not somebody else," he said.
Modi said he is cooperating with investigating agencies and will return to India when he feels it is safe for him.
"We have provided every piece of document that is needed by the enforcement directorate. All I've said it because of security issues I do not want to take the risk. For me, security is a very important issue, the security of me and my family is extremely important," he said.