Delhi police investigating bookies connected to Raj’s associate Goenka
The Delhi Police are now investigating whether the bookies who were in touch with Umesh Goenka — through whom Raj Kundra apparently placed his bets — were also involved in spot-fixing of IPL matches. The police say that Rajasthan Royals cricketer Siddharth Trivedi had told them that Mr. Goenka had once approached Mr. Trivedi for information such as pitch details, team formation and the prospects for the team in a match. During questioning Mr. Goenka had allegedly corroborated what Mr. Trivedi told them.
The police say that the main focus of their investigation is spot-fixing. Therefore, no clean chit can be given to anyone till they arrived at a conclusion. “We have no evidence against Raj Kundra in this connection. He has only confessed to betting, but his statement without any corroborative evidence is not admissible in court,” said a police officer.
Mr. Kundra’s business partner was allegedly in touch with seven bookmakers through whom he would place bets, according to the police.
However, the police on Friday said they were verifying the purported claims of Mr. Kundra that he had lost over Rs.1 crore to betting during the three previous IPL seasons. “Whether he also made profits from the bets is being probed. However, tracking the money trail would be an uphill task as most of the cash changed hands through hawala channels,” said another officer.
A good show by Mr. Kundra’s team Rajasthan Royals during IPL-6 has brought his purported claims of losses under the scanner. RR, on which he had allegedly placed bets, went on to win 10 of the 16 league matches this year.
Giving a break up of the “lost money” as purportedly disclosed to them by Mr. Kundra, the officer said the businessman claimed that he had lost Rs.12.5 lakh in the recently concluded edition of the league. “He told us that the corresponding losses for the previous two editions were Rs.40 lakh and Rs.50 lakh, respectively,” he added. The officer said the police could call Mr. Kundra again for questioning if the need arose and that they could also call his wife Shilpa Shetty as she too had allegedly placed a bet and lost close to Rs.1 lakh.
Police investigations have revealed that Mr. Goenka, through whom the RR owner had allegedly placed all the bets, earlier lived at West Punjabi Bagh in Delhi. He tried his hand in the sponge iron business and share brokerage, but suffered losses. He then went to London and met Mr. Kundra through a common contact as the latter’s mother once lived in West Punjabi Bagh.
“Mr. Goenka, who was into betting for the past six years, returned from the United Kingdom in 2008 and set up a steel business in partnership with Mr. Kundra through whom he started getting passes for IPL matches three years ago. Around the same time, the accused began placing bets on cricket matches,” said the officer.
In a related development, the police have obtained the custody of Ramesh Vyas, an alleged bookie arrested by the Mumbai Police last month.
He allegedly had direct links with underworld don Chhota Shakeel, a close aide of top fugitive Dawood Ibrahim.