This Article is From Jun 23, 2015

Met Him at London Pubs, Says 2G Accused Thanked in Lalit Modi Email

File Photo: Former IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi (Agence France-Presse)

New Delhi: After he was granted emergency travel documents by UK officials, graft-tainted cricket boss Lalit Modi thanked a series of high-profile Indians in an email in August, last year. Among them were top politician Sharad Pawar; Swaraj Kaushal, a lawyer married to Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj; and controversial entrepreneur Vinod Goenka, who is on trial for corruption in the telecom or 2G scam, one of India's largest financial swindles.

When asked why Mr Modi thanked him, Mr Goenka told NDTV that they had spent time together in London at "pubs and PTA meetings" but insisted that he is "not that close to Mr Modi". However, there is wide-ranging evidence of close links between the two businessmen. Mr Modi's Instagram account shows him attending the Istanbul wedding this May of Mr Goenka's nephew, Yash Goenka. Vinod Goenka told NDTV the invite was extended by the bride's family and "Modi was only there for a short time." But newspaper archives also show that in 2010, Vinod Goenka and Shahid Balwa, who is also an accused in the telecom scam, flew in Mr Modi's private jet to Abu Dhabi.

Mr Pawar, a union minister in the previous Congress-led government and one of Indian cricket's most powerful administrators, told NDTV that he was unaware of Mr Modi's thank you note because his staff checks his email. The politician has however admitted that he met Mr Modi in London a month ago; Majod Memon, of his party is a lawyer for Mr Goenka in the telecom case.

Mr Modi left India for London in 2010 while he was wanted in a range of corruption cases linked to his term as the flashy chief of the country's richest sports league, the Indian Premier League. At a time when his passport had been revoked by India, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj urged UK officials to allow Mr Modi to travel to Portugal with his wife for her medical treatment.