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Report uncovers rampant corruption

Canberra Times logo Canberra Times 17/05/2014 Nick Hoult
a © Teaukura Moetaua/Getty Images a

The extent of cricket’s global war against fixers can be revealed for the first time with details of attempts to corrupt Test matches, one-day internationals and even club matches in England proving the problem permeates all levels of the game.

The Telegraph has seen confidential ICC documents which reveal the desperate attempts by the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit to fight back against fixers preying on cricketers and how honeytraps and middlemen are used to lure players into criminal activity.

A report by the ACSU in January 2012 contains a rogue’s gallery of bookies, fixers and chancers who tried to contact players on tours to England, during the World Twenty20 in this country in 2009 and the 2011 World Cup in India.

One player was offered £57,000 ($96,000) to perform to order in a Test series; a five-match one-day series between Zimbabwe and Bangladesh in December 2010 was suspected of corruption by an Indian bookie simply referred to as ‘‘JS’’; while a player agent was offered £200,000 to organise fixes during televised matches by an illegal Indian bookie given the name ‘‘VG’’ by detectives.

The ACSU was monitoring the activities of more than 100 individuals across the world who were ‘‘actively involved in, or closely associated with, actual or planned corruption attempts’’. In total the ACSU chased 281 lines of inquiry, investigated 11 corrupt approaches to players or team officials, 124 suspicious actions, monitored the activities of 67 individuals, sifted through 74 pieces of technical data and worked through five other pieces of information related to fixing.

Chillingly there is no mention in the report of Lou Vincent, who during the period covered in 2011 had fixed two county matches and would go on, months after the report was presented to the ICC management board, to fix games in the Twenty20 Champions League in South Africa.

The severely under-resourced ACSU, which had just nine officers spending a combined total of 1469 nights away from home, could not cope with the workload and the Vincent case proves it was unable to keep up with the fixers.

The figures, which cover the first full year of Ronnie Flanagan’s tenure as head of the ACSU, show a sharp increase from the 158 intelligence reports dealt with in 2010. Given the rise in the number of T20 matches since then, plus the complex fixing cases involving Vincent and the Bangladesh Premier League, it is safe to assume the ACSU has been dealing with many more intelligence reports over the intervening two years, stretching its resources further.

Officers questioned Indian cricketer Suresh Raina about why he was photographed with ‘‘notorious’’ Indian bookie ‘‘DN’’ on a tour to Sri Lanka. At the time there were suggestions the incident was hushed up by the Indian board but Raina was issued with a ‘‘Demand Letter’’ and he was cleared of any knowledge of the individual.

In 2011 an Indian bookie referred to as ‘‘KB’’, was pictured at a London hotel where touring teams stay near Lord’s. He was captured on the hotel’s CCTV on July 25, the final day of the Lord’s Test against England although there is no suggestion any matches on the tour were fixed.

At the 2011 World Cup in India and Sri Lanka ACSU officers monitored the behaviour of bookie ‘‘SB’’. He and associates ‘‘made several attempts to approach players’’. The ACSU briefed players, who were ordered to have no further dealings with ‘‘SB’’. The same bookie was later identified travelling to the UAE for a Test series in November 2011 between Sri Lanka and Pakistan where he made contact with two players.

But ACSU officers had already briefed both teams and they refused to meet him. ‘‘Prominent Indian bookie JS’’, who had a history of fixing allegations and corrupt approaches to players, was trailed by detectives. In 2011 he contacted the brother of an unnamed international player to broker a corrupt offer of $96,000 to spot-fix in a Test series. The approach was reported to the ACSU.

An individual identified as ‘‘VG’’ offered a player agent  ‘‘VG’’ £200,000 to help with fixing. Another bookie, ‘‘ASK’’, brokered a meeting with the same agent to arrange the fixing of matches played by an Indian club side in England in 2011 against an unnamed associate team.

Players are also warned about the use of honey traps to blackmail cricketers into fixing and the report carries photographs of a couple (‘‘DP’’ and ‘‘NM’’), who ‘‘attempted to approach players’’ at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington, where many teams stayed during the World T20 in 2009. ‘‘NM’’ is pictured in a bikini and ‘‘ACSU inquiries ascertained that NM was clearly using her charms (the ‘‘honey trap’’) in an attempt to corrupt players.’’

She was covertly observed again at the 2011 World Cup and she made a corrupt approach to a player, who reported it to the ACSU.Two other bookies, ‘‘RA’’ and ‘‘RS’’, were identified at the World T20 in England where they attempted to befriend players in a team hotel and its casino. ‘‘RA offered casino chips to players and offered to provide call girls and a ’safe’ hotel room.’’

The ACSU also helped identify the bookie who corrupted Mervyn Westfield and found more than 300 texts and calls exchanged between the agent Mazhar Majeed, who was jailed for his role in the Pakistan fixing scandal of 2010, and his bookie contact in Mumbai.

This week there was a meeting of the ICC’s review group set up to overhaul the unit. Any cut in its funding or manpower will be hugely damaging to the game. Insiders insist the plan is to make the unit more effective and update its methods. Flanagan’s future is very uncertain and he is expected to exit as soon as the board looks to appoint a new lead detective able to devote more time to the ACSU.

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