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November 1, 2000

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The CBI Report in Full -- Part 26

Mukesh Kumar Gupta has stated that he met Azharuddin sometime in 1995 through Ajay Sharma at Hotel Taj Palace, New Delhi. He paid a sum of Rs 50 lakh as 'advance' with an arrangement that this amount would be adjusted against the matches Azharuddin would 'do' for MK.

Ajay Sharma, in his statement, has corroborated that he introduced Azharuddin to Mukesh Kumar Gupta since Azharuddin wanted somebody to finance some 'fashion show' and 'charity matches'.

However, Ajay Sharma has further stated that Azharuddin had told him that MK wanted him (Azharuddin) to 'do' some matches for him and Ajay Sharma had told Azharuddin that he could consider the proposal.

Ajay Sharma adds that Azharuddin had telephonically confirmed to him that he had received money from MK. Azharuddin, in his statement, has admitted meeting MK through Ajay Sharma. He has further stated that MK had offered Rs 1.25 crore but the deal did not materialise.

However, the statement of MK corroborated by Ajay Sharma clearly indicates that Azharuddin was paid at least Rs 50 lakh initially by MK to 'fix' matches. MK has further stated that Azharuddin had specially agreed to 'do' some matches during the Titan Cup series in 1996.

But the Titan Cup Final did not turn out as arranged with Azharuddin. According to MK, after the Titan Cup Final, he, along with Ajay Sharma, went to Hyderabad and met Azharuddin to ask him to make up for the 'losses' suffered by him during the Titan Cup.

Ajay Sharma has corroborated this visit to Hyderabad and also the fact that, at this meeting, Azharuddin had agreed to make up the losses suffered by MK, in future matches.

MK adds that Azharuddin then gave him 'information' about two Tests at Ahmedabad and Calcutta in the 1996 series against South Africa which helped him, partially recover his losses.

Azharuddin, in his statement, has accepted receiving money from MK to fix some matches, but has stated that he 'did' only two matches for him -- Titan Cup match in 1996 at Rajkot and 'some' match in Pepsi Asia Cup in Sri Lanka, 1997.

This 'admission' of Azhar that he 'did' only two matches for MK during this period appears a dilution of the actual facts in the context of the amount of money he had received from MK. MK has stated that he was introduced to Dr Ali Irani by Azharuddin during the Ahemdabad Test against South Africa in 1996.

Dr Ali Irani has corroborated this but stated that MK was introduced to him as 'John'. MK is categorical that some payments to Azharuddin were made through Dr Irani.

This fact has been accepted by Dr Ali Irani, who has also stated that he used to receive a commission of Rs 25,000- to 50,000- from Azharuddin for receiving such payments which were running into lakhs, on each occasion.

The payment of money through Dr Irani has been further corroborated by the statement of Anil Steel, the Bombay bookie and an associate of MK, who has stated that, on two occasions, he made payments of around Rs. 20-25 lakh each to Dr Irani at Nanawati Hospital, on behalf of MK.

MK has further stated that Azharuddin had introduced Hansie Cronje to him during the third Test between India and South Africa at Kanpur, 1996. Azharuddin has admitted this fact.

Further, there is also documentary proof in the form of hotel records which show that MK had stayed at Hotel Landmark, Kanpur, where both the teams were staying during the Test. MK has further stated that in the Sahara Cup, 1997, at Toronto, Sangeeta Bijlani used to provide him 'information' through cell phone which, however, generally proved to be incorrect.

Ajay Sharma has said that he introduced Azharuddin to Ajay Gupta and associates sometime in 1998 at Hotel Taj Palace, New Delhi. This fact is further corroborated by the statement of Sanjay Anand.

Azharuddin has accepted that he met Ajay Gupta to seek his help in getting a petrol outlet allotted at Bangalore, but later on admitted that Ajay Gupta had approached him to 'fix' some matches.

Ajay Sharma has stated that, on one occasion, he had collected Rs 15 lakh from Ajay Gupta on Azharuddin's behalf and deposited the money in the locker of Azharuddin at Hotel Taj Palace through the then Food and Beverages Manager, Anil Saxena.

This has been further corroborated by Anil Saxena, the then Food and Beverages Manager at Taj Palace Hotel, New Delhi, who used to handle Azharuddin's locker in his absence.

Nishit Goel, cousin of Ajay Gupta, has stated that he had 'heard' that Azharuddin was paid around Rs 25 lakh by the Guptas initially. Azharuddin, however, does not remember how much money was paid by the Guptas to him to 'fix' matches.

The evidence regarding Azharuddin possessing a locker at Hotel Taj Palace, New Delhi is further strengthened by the statement of MK who has stated that he had 'recovered' Rs 30 lakh from that locker through Anil Saxena and Ajay Sharma, when matches did not turn out as arranged with Azharuddin after the Sahara Cup in 1997.

The nexus between Azharuddin and Ajay Gupta is further corroborated through their cell-phone print outs which disclose frequent calls between Azharuddin and Ajay Gupta/ Ameesh Gupta especially during the matches.

For example, Azharuddin made a call on 6.3.2000 to Ajay Gupta. This was the last day of India-South Africa Test Match at Bangalore. Similarly, Azharuddin made a call on 19.3.2000 to Ajay Gupta. This was on the day of the India-South Africa One Day International at Nagpur (he was not in the team).

Azharuddin has in his statement accepted that he was provided a cell-phone - 9811150860 by the Guptas. Further, Azharuddin has also accepted that Ameesh Gupta paid for his shopping at Harrods', London, in 1999 during the World Cup.

There is more documentary evidence in the form of hotel bills paid by Nishit Goel for Azharuddin's stay at Hotel Taj Palace on two occasions - on 2.2.200 and 8.2.2000. The total amount of money paid by Nishit Goel to Hotel Taj on the aforesaid occasions is around Rs 37,000.

Finally, Azharuddin in his statement, has specifically recalled that he 'did' the match between India and Pakistan at Jaipur for the Guptas during the Pepsi Cup Match, 1999, after which he received around Rs 10 lakh from an 'unknown' person, on behalf of the Guptas.

However, in view of the large amount of money Azhar has received from Guptas and the 'hospitality' he has enjoyed though them it is very difficult to believe that he 'did' only one match for them. Azharuddin has also stated during his examination that Abu Salem had rung him up on a couple of occasions to fix matches but he had refused.

Ali Irani, in his statement, has said that Azharuddin had told him once that "he was 'doing' matches for Anees Ibrahim and hence, he cannot do with anyone else."

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