IPL betting probe: Bollywood producer under scanner

Mumbai:  Trouble for Bollywood producer Nitin Manmohan who's been at the helm of films like Salman Khan's 'Ready', ' Yamla Pagla Deewana' starring the Deol family, and Sanjay Dutt and Abhishek Bachchan's 'Dus' amongst many other hits.

On Saturday, Mr Manmohan was expected to be questioned by the Mumbai Crime Branch  in connection with an international betting racket that the agency is probing. He however did not turn up. According to sources, he told the police 'he was unwell.'

Police suspect that on one of his recent productions 'Galli Galli Chor Hain' a film starring Akshaye Khanna and Mugdha Godse that released earlier this year may have been financed by illegal betting money. The film based on a man's fight against corruption, was appreciated by social activist Anna Hazare after a special screening of the movie was held in Ralegan Siddhi for him.

Mr Manmohan's role is being probed after Mumbai's crime branch team arrested six bookies last week. One of the arrested men is considered a close aide of a D gang member who in turn is allegedly close to Prakash Chandani who co-produced the film with Mr Manmohan.

The men were arrested from the northern suburb of Kandivali and were involved in betting on matches in the on-going IPL 5.

When the police raided their hideout, the men were accepting bets on that days match between Delhi Dare Devils and Chennai Superkings - both teams that ironically played for a spot in the finals yesterday.

Police say, bets were being taken and accepted of each ball bowled, each over played and performance of players. These bets were routed through betfair.com, a website where betting is legally accepted in London.

The Mumbai Police now say they will send a letter to Central agency emergency response team to ban the website in India as betting is still illegal here.

According to police sources, two of the men arrested -  Devendra Kothari and Sonu Jalal, are also key players in the international betting syndicate.

Devendra is considered to be a close aide of a man known as Sunil Dubai who the police allege, manages the D-gang betting operations in the sub-continent.  Sunil Dubai is considered to be a close aide of Mr Chandani, who is based from Dubai and co-produced Galli Galli Chor Hain.

As Chandani is currently in Dubai, Mr Manmohan has been summoned. The police say, his questioning will be important to get more clues to probe the nexus between cricket betting and Bollywood film financing.

Police suspect bets, worth Rs 500 crores have been placed during this year's IPL 5. This money they say, is often routed through hawala channels from Dubai and South East Asia,

After narcotics and drugs, betting is also the biggest money spinner for the D-gang.

So after a sting operation on spot fixing, a player being embroiled in a molestation case, two players being probed for alleged consumption of drugs at a rave party, the Mumbai crime branch's case is only exposing the murky side of Lalit Modi's billion dollar baby.

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