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Hint of inflated pay

Calcutta, Aug. 22: The Enforcement Directorate is investigating whether some football clubs used their foreign recruits to channel Saradha cash to safe havens abroad, sources said.

The officials of the clubs have been called for questioning in the past few months, the sources said. Summons for questioning is not in itself an indication of wrongdoing and is part of the investigation process.

This newspaper is not naming the clubs because the sources said the directorate was still gathering information. Besides, none of the players has been questioned yet.

Contacted separately, the representatives of the clubs denied the allegations. One official said: “This (the alleged channelling of money through the players) is not possible…. All the foreign players are paid by cheque and all necessary taxes are deposited and verified before they leave the country.”

Investigating officers said the probe was concentrating on whether some foreign players “chose” to be part of a “chain” and were paid inflated salaries.

“The salaries would be initially deposited in Indian accounts and then the money would be transferred to a Southeast Asian country, from where a part would be channelled to asset management companies floated in the garb of export companies in Dubai. We suspect these players were used just as carriers against payment of some commission,” said an official attached with the central agency.

“The player would keep his real salary and the commission. The additional amount would go to the companies,” the official said.

The sleuths are tallying the individual contracts of the players under scanner with their pay cheques.

The central agency has collected documents on the payment structure from two clubs, the sources said. “Officials of the accounts department of two other clubs have been given time to return with their balance sheets and documents relating to the payment structure,” said a source.

Before he was arrested, Saradha group chief Sudipta Sen had spread his influence on the Maidan circuit by becoming one of the sponsors for some of the clubs.

Sources said the directorate was also investigating whether Sen had influenced player recruitment and the contents of the contracts.