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12 cricketers under suspicion in match-fixing inquiry

Canberra Times logo Canberra Times 16/05/2014 Nick Hoult
Lou Vincent. © Getty Images Lou Vincent.

Anti-corruption detectives have identified 12 cricketers from around the world whom they suspect of match-fixing. They are at the heart of the wide-ranging investigation launched following evidence provided by former New Zealand batsman Lou Vincent, and supplemented by other cricketers who are also now co-operating with investigators.

The players are being investigated either for fixing or failing to report a corrupt approach to the relevant authorities, an offence that can carry a maximum five-year suspension. Spot-fixing can carry greater penalties, including criminal prosecution.

 It is learnt that one English county player faces a charge of failing to report an approach, as does a former Pakistani international.

Vincent's evidence has also given the authorities insight into how money is paid to corrupt cricketers through banks, some based in England, and how contact is maintained with criminal ringleaders overseas.

It is understood they have photographic evidence of bank records and transactions, which is helping to identify the Asian mafia barons who are said to control multibillion-dollar illegal betting industries in India.

The emerging scandal is also revealing to the authorities how the fixers exert pressure on players once they have accepted money to underperform, as well as the value placed on any form of insider knowledge about fitness and team tactics.

It is understood a match between Lancashire and Durham in June 2008, in which Vincent played, is under suspicion. The Twenty20 Cup North Division game was televised live on Sky and Star Sports in India and is believed to be one of several matches involving Vincent which are being looked into. 

The match at Old Trafford came soon after Vincent joined Lancashire on a short-term deal following his participation in the now-defunct Indian Cricket League, where fixing is thought to have been widespread. There is no suggestion any other players from Lancashire or Durham were involved in any alleged fix. Vincent scored one off five balls in the match, which Durham won by six wickets with six balls to spare.

The International Cricket Council's anti-corruption unit, based in Dubai, is liaising closely with the England and Wales Cricket Board's security unit over Vincent's involvement with matches played in England, which also include a Sussex game against Kent in 2011, when Vincent is again the only player under suspicion.

Cricket New Zealand confirmed that matches involving Vincent's domestic team, the Auckland Aces, at the 2012 Twenty20 Champions League in South Africa were also being investigated by the ICC.

NZ Cricket chairman David White refused to comment when asked if Brendon McCullum, the current New Zealand captain, was the international captain said to have been approached to fix a match and who reported the offer to anti-corruption officials.

The fixing investigation is focusing on New Zealand and the alleged involvement of Chris Cairns, who successfully sued Lalit Modi in a High Court libel action in 2012 for suggestions he was involved in corruption during the Indian Cricket League.

His barrister, Andrew Fitch-Holland, was interviewed by police in London for a second time on Wednesday after being arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice. He was bailed until September.

Cairns has also met London detectives and will hold further interviews. "I'm waiting to conclude the interview I started with the Met over six weeks ago here in New Zealand," he said. "I continue to cooperate fully with the relevant authorities. Regarding Lou Vincent's comments and the position of Andrew Fitch-Holland, I do not comment on other people's situations in this matter."

Tony Wyatt, QC, a lawyer for Fitch-Holland, told the New Zealand Herald: "Ostensibly he was questioned about a number of evidential matters which he wasn't questioned about last time. The material was all very much the same but it just wasn't disclosed to him on the last occasion. This time it has. He answered questions about everything that had been disclosed. He will be re-interviewed.

"He's not been charged but the investigation is ongoing. It seems most of the information is coming from one source, so the decision they will make when they come to decide [whether] to charge him is whether that one source is credible."

The anti-corruption authorities have to weigh up the reliability of Vincent's claims and whether they can successfully secure a conviction using him as a witness.

ECB chairman Giles Clarke lobbied the government on Thursday to implement specific laws to make fixing in a sporting event a criminal offence. It is not a specific criminal offence at present, and the four cricketers jailed in England over the past three years for involvement in spot-fixing, most recently Essex bowler Mervyn Westfield, were tried under an obscure 1906 Corruption Act.

A study released on Thursday by the International Centre for Sport Security said criminal gangs launder £83 billion ($149 billion) a year from illegal betting on sport. It said cricket and football were the most vulnerable and lucrative targets.

Telegraph, London

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