Gaikwad link probe

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 18.04.10
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Mumbai, April 17: The Maharashtra government will launch a probe into the IPL links of Ravi Gaikwad, a scam-hit transport official who is also the brother of Kochi team promoter Shailendra Gaikwad.

The government has also begun suspension proceedings against Ravi for his alleged role in the superbikes customs evasion scam last year. He was mentioned by IPL chief Lalit Modi as one of the stakeholders of Rendezvous soon after the bidding last month.

Ravi was the official who gave the controversial registration tax waiver on the Ferrari sports vehicle gifted to Sachin Tendulkar in 2002, though no action had been taken against him then. An embarrassed state government had then validated Ravi’s action by announcing the waiver, drawing flak for it.

The government said it would find out if Ravi had any stake in the Kochi consortium. State transport minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil said: “We will probe the investments made by Ravi Gaikwad in the Kochi franchise deal.”

A senior Maharashtra official said a notice had been served on “assistant regional transport officer Ravindra Gaikwad — the brother of Shailendra Gaikwad of Rendezvous Sports — to find out whether he has links with the Kochi franchise of the IPL.”

Under the Maharashtra Civil Service Rules, a government employee has to take permission from the state before making huge investments.

Rendezvous denied Ravi had any stake. “Ravi has no role in the Kochi franchise,” said Satyajit Gaikwad, Ravi’s cousin and spokesperson for the Kochi consortium. In his tweet after the Kochi bid, Modi had mentioned Ravi as one of the Rendezvous investors.

“Rendezvous Group has Vivek Venugopal, Anchor Switches, Rosy Blue Diamond, Mukesh Patel, Ravi and Shailendra Gaikwad as part of the consortium,” Modi wrote without mentioning Shailendra, who was present at the auction in Chennai.

Ravi had faced corruption charges while he was posted as deputy regional transport officer in the Andheri division, Mumbai. During his posting there, Ravi is believed to have developed close friendships with several cricketers and celebrities who fancy imported vehicles and superbikes, and had invited some of them to Solapur — where the Gaikwads have their home — for functions.

Former India captain and chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar, for instance, visited Solapur for the Gaikwads’ London-based sister Pratibha’s wedding in August 2005 on Ravi’s invitation. Tendulkar was the other celeb guest at the wedding.

Ravi was among 18 transport officials indicted in the duty evasion scam unearthed by the directorate of revenue intelligence last year. The officials were accused of costing the exchequer crores through fraudulent registration of imported bikes.

While 11 were suspended, the remaining seven, believed to have had comparatively minor roles, were transferred. Ravi was among the seven and was transferred to Beed. He, however, went on leave.

The government woke up to the corruption charges against Ravi after the controversy over Shailendra and the Kochi IPL team erupted.

The transport minister said: “We have initiated suspension proceedings against (Ravi) Gaikwad, who has not reported for duty after he was transferred out of Mumbai.”