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IPL founder Lalit Modi cleared of ‘misrepresentation’ by UK court


The High Court in London on Wednesday cleared Indian Premier League (IPL) founder Lalit Modi of “actionable misrepresentations” as alleged by former Indian model-turned-investor Gurpreet Gill Maag in a legal challenge.

Murray Rosen QC, a Judge of the Chancery Division, concluded that Modi did not set out to misrepresent matters in order to secure investment for a worldwide cancer treatment project dating back to April 2018.

The case, involving Gill-owned Quantum Care along with husband David Maag, alleged deceit and breach of contract on the part of Modi.

“I do not consider that Quantum has proved that Mr Modi made material misrepresentations with the meanings it alleges, or that he intended or that the Maags understood such to be the meanings,” Judge Rosen’s ruling notes.

“Quantum took on a heavy burden in seeking to establish a difficult case in deceit and which can now be seen as unlikely, not only in many particular respects but also examined in the round. Its evidence was manifestly not sound enough for that task,” the ruling notes.

Referencing witness statements and WhatsApp messages submitted during a hearing last month, the judge said he declines to find that Modi “made actionable misrepresentations as alleged to Mr and Mrs Maag, and Quantum’s deceit claim against him falls to be dismissed”.

“Even if that were wrong, apart from its USD 1 million investment which is subject to Mr Modi’s contractual promise of repayment (now to be the subject of judgment) I am not persuaded that it suffered any recoverable loss,” the judge adds.

Separately, there is a judgment awaited for the balance of USD 800,000 allegedly owed to the Maags under a contract for their USD 1 million investment, of which Modi has reportedly returned USD 200,000.

“Quantum’s claims otherwise fail, including for the avoidance of doubt, the claims for interest at any higher rate and/or compounded and whether by way of damages for deceit or under contract,” Judge Rosen notes.

The case, brought by Singapore-based Indian national Gurpreet Gill Maag, revolved largely around what was said and presented by Modi to her and her Swiss banking professional husband at a meeting in a hotel suite in Dubai on April 13-14, 2018.

Being socially acquainted with London-based Modi, Maag was invited to invest in a first “friends and family round” of fundraising for USD 2 million. Her company Quantum Care went on to invest USD 1 million on November 14, 2018, and the remaining USD 1 million was not invested as Ion Care’s business never got off the ground. However, Maag says this meant losses for her as she was unable to invest that sum in other businesses.

According to court documents, Modi set up Ion Care in early 2016, inspired by his wife Minalini’s long-term struggle with cancer, to own and operate outpatient oncology treatment centres situated worldwide in order to provide advanced non-invasive image guided single-dose radiotherapy. However, the business did not progress as intended by the time Minalini Modi passed away in December 2018.

While the court found in Modi’s favour, it did note that he was “in short an unreliable witness”.

Apart from his very poor recall, which the judge said he thought was genuine, he tended to “speeches regarding his aspirations and the closeness of his friendships with innumerable famous people, rather than attempting to focus on objective reality, with which his relationship seemed fluid and sometimes even distant or at least secondary”.

“Mr and Mrs Maag were both impressive people, clearly experienced and sensible in business. However, to some extent, Mrs Maag veered between dogmatism on aspects which accorded with the central scenario and agenda for Quantum’s deceit damages claim, and a rather disdainful vagueness on other relevant matters,” the judge observed.

Modi, described as “instrumental” in the foundation of the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s successful “Twenty20′ cricket tournament called the Indian Premier League in court documents, will find out whether he is contractually obliged to pay back USD 800,000 at a later stage. His position is that he merely offered to return Quantum’s money if and when he could and after the deduction of expenses “as a gesture of goodwill” and “out of compassion”.



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