NEW DELHI -The agent of Indian cricket captain MS Dhoni admitted Monday that the World Cup winner had briefly held a stake in a management company that represents several other players in the national side. Rhiti Sports, a group run by Dhoni's agent Arun Pandey, issued a statement following a newspaper report alleging a conflict of interest between Dhoni's cricketing and business activities. 

Rhiti says on its website that it manages Dhoni as well as all-rounders Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja, whose international careers depend in part on the captain who has a large influence on team selection. Rhiti said it was "greatly aggrieved at the widespread media reports regarding an alleged conflict of interest". It said Dhoni had ceased to own shares in April after holding an unspecified stake for just over a month.

"As on date, MSD (Dhoni) holds no shareholding in Rhiti Sports Management," said the statement by Pandey. The shares had been allotted to Dhoni in March to "secure certain old outstanding which were due for more than one year", said the statement without elaborating. The shareholdings, alleged to be a 15 percent stake in a front-page story by The Economic Times on Monday, come as Indian cricket is engulfed in a betting and spot-fixing scandal amid serious concerns about the management of the game.

Gurunath Meiyappan, the son-in-law of the national cricket board president N. Srinivasan, was arrested on May 24 for allegedly taking part in illegal betting on the Indian Premier League (IPL), which is the subject of multiple police investigations. Three other players including Test paceman Shanthakumaran Sreesanth have also been arrested over allegations they fixed part of the games for bookies in exchange for thousands of dollars.

Srinivasan, whose ownership of an IPL team while acting as cricket board chief has also been criticised, has defied pressure from the sports ministry and colleagues to step down following the scandal. The Times of India newspaper said the Board of Control for Cricket in India had "shamed the nation" and lamented that "Indian cricket is run by a cosy clique of administrators who have little regard for the game or its image." Dhoni and the Indian national team are currently in Cardiff in Britain, where they will take part in the Champions Trophy.