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Conflict of interest complaints against BCCI media manager and national selector

Fresh allegations of conflict of interest have reached Justice AP Shah, the BCCI's ombudsman appointed to look into issues of corruption.

AP Shah
Former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, Justice AP Shah is the BCCI’s ombudsman.

A fresh set of complaints alleging a conflict of interest has been received by the BCCI ombudsman Justice AP Shah. The complaints involve BCCI media manager Nishant Arora and national selector Vikram Rathour.

Shah received an email from freelance journalist Niraj Gunde on Tuesday where the latter claimed that media manager Arora and his spouse were involved in a commercial venture. Senior Indian cricketers Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh and also the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) were their clients. Anurag Thakur, the incumbent BCCI secretary is the president of the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association.

In the email, Gunde has said how Arora had violated the conflict of interest rule that pertains to BCCI employees. The rule states clearly that a BCCI employee and his or her relative cannot in any way be involved or associated with any commercial ventures with a member association. They also cannot represent a cricket player. This mail has been forwarded by Shah to BCCI president Shashank Manohar and BCCI’s new head of operations Ratnakar Shetty.

Gunde wrote, "Mr Nishant Arora was formerly manager/agent of Mr. Harbhajan Singh and Mr. Yuvraj Singh, current cricketers of the BCCI. In addition, Mr. Nishant Arora's wife Ms. Neha Soni Arora is the director of a company called Final Score Management Pvt. Ltd. This company has had commercial relations with various people associated with the Board."

Along with the mail, Gunde attached the client list of Final Score. It includes Yuvraj Singh Centre of Excellence (YSCE), YouWeCan (the cancer foundation promoted by Yuvraj), Harbhajan Singh Institute of Cricket, and a photo of Thakur along with the HPCA insignia.

No comment has been received from Nishant Arora but clarification came from a BCCI official who said that Arora had long distanced himself from Final Score before he took the post of the media manager for BCCI. The clarification also included the apparent fact that Arora has never managed Yuvraj and Harbhajan but had only done public relations work for the batsman and spinner. He declared that Final Score happens to be a “defunct” business.

Gunde has also produced a scan of Vikram Rathour’s passport which says that he is a British citizen. Rathour happens to be a former Indian opener. Gunde has questioned Rathour’s loyalty to the board saying that it “is conflicted.”

BCCI is to respond to the issue by February 2nd. Depending on the reply, Shah will send notices to Arora and Rathour. This is the fourth application sent by Shah. Only last week he brought conflict allegations against India captain Sourav Ganguly and Harbhajan Singh.

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