IPL team Rajasthan Royals was slapped with a penalty notice of approximately Rs 100 crore by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for alleged violation of forex laws, a move which comes barely two months before the sixth edition of the high-profile league gets underway.
The agency, which issued the penalty notice after a two years of investigations under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), has sent out three separate notices to the IPL franchise totalling to Rs 98.5 crore plus some other similar notices earlier, sources said.
While a Rs 50 crore penalty has been slapped on Jaipur IPL Cricket Private Limited (JIPL) and its directors, owners of Rajasthan Royals, Rs 34 crore notice for evasion of forex duties has been issued against EM Sporting Holding, Mauritius and its directors.
A fresh notice of Rs 14.5 crore has been issued against Ms ND Investments, United Kingdom and its directors.
The franchise said it "intends to launch a full appeal" against the ED order.
"Rajasthan Royals has today received an Order from the Enforcement Directorate in respect of alleged breaches of FEMA. We are discussing the contents of the Order with our lawyers and intend to launch a full appeal against the Order," the franchise said in a statement.
"We will not be making any further statement on this matter at this time," it added.
All the three parties can appeal against this penalty order in the appellate authority of FEMA. The order requires the IPL team to pay up in 45 days.
The ED has been investigating financial and foreign exchange irregularities against all the IPL franchises for almost two years now and this is the first big order against any team. It comes just a day after auctions concluded in Chennai for the sixth edition of the glamorous cricket extravaganza.
The penalty order said the probe agency found that foreign investment in JIPL was made in "flagrant contravention of FEMA" and the investment made in this regard was made "much prior to the incorporation of JIPL".
The penalty was issued after investigations pointed out that the funds in the firm have been remitted in an irregular manner and shares were allegedly issued in violation of forex rules stipulated and framed by the RBI.
The agency issued the first penalty order against Rajasthan Royals in mid-2011 and it recently moved the FEMA Adjudicating Authority in Delhi to vet its investigation in this case and issue final orders.
The penalty order states that the ED probe has found that foreign investments of the firm were in contravention of Section 6 of FEMA which deals with transfer or issue of security by a person resident outside India, and other sub-sections of the said Act.
The agency, during its probe, relied on the bank documents and statements made by the directors and investors of Rajasthan Royals.
The ED has issued almost 24 show cause notices, amounting Rs 2000 crore, under FEMA against various IPL franchises and the BCCI in the probe in these cases.
Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty and her businessman husband Raj Kundra also have stake in the franchise, which defied the odds to become the inaugural IPL champion.