Indian captain Virat Kohli finds himself in the Conflict of Interest web over his investment in a company that owns the online gaming platform Mobile Premier League (MPL). MPL is BCCI‘s official kit sponsor and merchandise partner.
Virat Kohli – MPL Brand Ambassador
A report in the Indian Express states that Kohli – named brand ambassador of MPL in January 2020 – was ‘allotted 68 CCDs with a face value of Rs 10, each issued at a premium of Rs 48,990 (Rs 33.32 lakh)’, which will be converted into equity shares at the end of 10 years and the Indian skipper will end up having 0.051 percent stake in the company, Galactus Funware Technology Private Limited, which owns the gaming platform.
MPL as Team India Kit sponsor
The BCCI on November 17, 2020, had announced MPL Sports as the official kit sponsors for team India as part of a three-year deal.
The designed and manufactured jerseys will be worn by Men’s, Women’s, and the Under-19 Indian cricket teams. Under the partnership, MPL Sports has entered into a three-year agreement from November 2020 to December 2023. MPL Sports’ association with the BCCI began with India’s tour of Australia, 2020-21.
The report further adds that Galactus also issued 34 CCDs worth Rs 16.66 lakh to Cornerstone Sports LLP, the CEO of which, Amit Arun Sajdeh, is ‘Kohli’s partner in two other limited liability partnership firms — Magpie Venture Partners LLP and Virat Kohli Sports LLP’.
A top BCCI official told the national daily that the board is not aware of Kohli and Cornerstone having a stake in MPL while another official said, as quoted in the report, “He (Kohli) is an influential figure in Indian cricket and such interconnections aren’t ideal for good governance.”
In July last year, Kohli’s conflict of interest issue was raised to Ethics Officer DK Jain. Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association life member Sanjeev Gupta Gupta had spoken about Kohli’s business ventures and said that it comes across that it is in violation of the Lodha Panel recommendations that were approved by the Supreme Court while the new BCCI Constitution was registered.
Documents submitted with the complaint showed Kohli is a ‘designated partner’ of Cornerstone Venture Partners Llp, with Sajdeh and Binoy Bharat Khimji. This is a sister concern of Cornerstone, which manages sportspersons including India cricketers KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja, Rishabh Pant, Umesh Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav, Shubman Gill and Kohli himself. Sajdeh and Khimji are in the management of Cornerstone, with two others.