Match-fixing update: illegal World Cup betting crackdown continues with multiple arrests in Malaysia, China and Thailand

Weekly Media Recap 23 -29 June 2014 Published 01 July 2014

Interpol Blog Recap

CURRENT INVESTIGATION

Ghana

Ghana's Football Association (GFA) denied British media reports on Monday that it had agreed to rig international matches and asked Ghanaian police to investigate two GFA officials the reports linked to the deal.

The Daily Telegraph and Channel 4 television's Dispatches programme in London said they uncovered the case during a six-month investigation into match-fixing. GFA president Kwesi Nyantakyi said the reports were "a representation of half-truths and half-lies." Nyantakyi has since added, in a BBC interview, that he intended to sue The Daily Telegraph and the Channel 4 show. FIFA said they had been contacted by the Ghana Football Association on the matter. The Telegraph carried a video on its website showing what it said was a meeting between the two GFA officials and the former FIFA investigator where the match-fixing was discussed.

Source: Mark Gleeson, "Ghana deny match-rigging report, file complaint", 23 June 2014, Reuters https://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/06/23/uk-soccer-world-ghana-report-idUKKBN0EY17U20140623 

Greece

The Athens prosecutor announced criminal prosecutions for seven manipulated Superleague Greece matches between Kalloni Lesbos, O.F.I Crete, PAS Gianenna, Panionios Athens and Platanias Crete, involving players executives and managers of Kalloni Lesbos and O.F.I. Crete. Procecutor Haralambos Lakaphosis, also investigates criminal liability, not only of players but also, of top managers and agents, after studying the records of UEFA. The charges are 'in rem’’ (under Article 132 of Greek Law 2725/99] and relates to corruption match fixing manipulation of specific events during the matches in relation with betting activities for these matches.

Source: "Match-fixing in Greek Superleague 2013-2014", 24 June 2014, Skai https://www.skai.gr/news/sports/article/260685/apokalupsi-sti-diki-eisaggeliki-dioxi-gia-kalloni-ofi-giannena-panionio-kai-platania/#ixzz35X5eUSQE 

Guatemala

FEDEFUT will present to CONCACAF all evidence regarding the case of Sacachispas President Gerson Rodriguez who denounced that days before his team lost the game for the second division of the National League, he received emails and calls requesting money to help them in their next match at the Mateo Flores Stadium. It is expected that CONCACAF take action immediately.

Source: "CONCACAF will evaluate Polanco-Rodriguez case", 26 June 2014, GuateFutbol https://www.guatefutbol.com/otras-noticias1/federacion-otras-ligas/3958-concacaf-evaluara-el-caso-polanco-rodriguez 

Spain

Javier Tebas, president of the Spanish Professional Football League (LFP), says that two Liga Adelante (second division) football matches are under investigation for alleged involvement in match-fixing. Since Tebas took up his post, he has urged on tackling match-fixing.

Source: "Two second division matches under suspicion", 23 June 2014, TuDiarioDeApuestas https://tudiariodeapuestas.com/not/5366/dos_partidos_de_segunda_division__bajo_sospecha/ 

Turkey

The 13th Istanbul High Criminal Court ruled June 23 for the retrial of several convicted suspects, including Fenerbahçe’s outspoken chairman Aziz Yldrm, in the match-fixing case that had shaken the country’s football scene. The court has accepted the retrial of the suspects for charges of being a member of a criminal organization, while it rejected Yldrm’s demand for retrial on the grounds that the investigation was part of a plot against the convicted suspects. Yldrm, whose appeal into his six-year, three-month match-fixing case was rejected by Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals in January, is facing at least two years in prison if the verdict stands. The prosecutor of the case, Mirza Cokun, pleaded for a retrial, arguing Yldrm had been mistakenly accused regarding some of the charges, while others were aggravated compared to the information contained in the investigation files.

Source: "High court rules for retrial of Fenerbahçe chairman Yldrm in match-fixing case", 23 June 2014, Hurriyet Daily News
https://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/high-court-rules-for-retrial-of-fenerbahce-chairman-yildirim-in-match-fixing-case.aspx?pageID=238&nID=68180&NewsCatID=362

United Kingdom

On the second day of the hearing to determine who owns the football club, Swindon Town current chairman Lee Power rejected match-fixing accusations thrown at him by former chairman Jed McCrory. "He (Jed) even said the manager was in on it. The match we fixed changed four times and we won all the games we're supposed to have fixed." Power also asked a High Court courtroom why he would plough £2m into something he didn't believe he owned.

Source: Beren Cross, "Power cites £2million STFC investment and refutes match fixing claim at High Court", 26 June 2014, This is Wiltshire https://www.thisiswiltshire.co.uk/news/11303192.Power_cites___2million_STFC_investment_and_refutes_match_fixing_claim_at_High_Court/ 
 

GOOD PRACTICE

Jamaica

The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) is to commission a study of match fixing and sports gambling to determine how to address the issues. Minister with responsibility for sports, Natalie Neita Headley, told the House of Representatives that the study would help the government identify legislative measures required to “dissuade participation and punish violators”.

Source: Balford Henry, "OPM to study match-fixing, sports gambling", 25 June 2014, Jamaica Observer
 

ILLEGAL BETTING

China

Chinese policemen re-affirm that the country is still not tolerating illegal soccer betting for the ongoing World Cup 2014 games. Guangdong provincial department of social security director Zheng Zehui said that authorities have been probing illegal betting after reports that online soccer gambling has sparked in the country. Guangzhou police has already arrested a total of 42 suspects after conducting a raid on a major online gambling ring in Panyu last May 25. At the time, the UEFA Champions League Final was on. The leader of the gambling gang identified as Xie opened an online soccer betting website last April. He was then probed after being involved in illegal online betting for more than a decade. Xie's web portal has received about 380 million yuan worth of soccer bets from April 1 to May 23. Police reports indicated that more than 100 local businessmen were suspected to have illegally bet on soccer games in the said site.

Source: "Chinese Police Reiterates Position Against Illegal Soccer Betting In The Country", 23 June 2014, Yibada

France

The French League (LFP) issued a statement yesterday announcing that 87 professional players in France will be investigated for having failed to comply with the regulations banning players from betting on LFP competitions. According to the Committee, the bets are "an offense under the Act of February 1, 2012 and the sporting regulations of the FFF and the LFP." The procedure was quite simply to cross check the files held by the betting regulators ARJEL with the LFP lists of 1600 professional players. According to the LFP, "The infringements cause no suspicion of fraud in the conduct of matches and thus the integrity of competitions." The 87 reportedly include 19 players from Ligue 1, 54 from Ligue 2 and 14 from the National (third division). The average amount gambled was just 20 euros, but 14 players bet more than 500 euros. 23 players bet against their own team, including five who took part in matches on which they had laid bets.

Source: Mark Baber, "87 French professional players caught betting on French League matches", 24 June 2014, Inside World Football

Malaysia

Malaysian police have arrested almost 200 people in raids on illegal World Cup betting that bust a group drawing daily wagers of $2.3 million, an official said Friday, after similar crackdowns in Macau, Singapore and Thailand. The arrests included four people held for allegedly being involved in the group which raked in 7.5 million ringgit ($2.3 million) in bets every day since the tournament kicked off. It said that the total amount waged was about 105 million ringgit ($33 million). Malaysia's federal crime investigation deputy director added that 12 servers, believed to be supporting a gambling website with networks in the Asia-Pacific region, were seized in the raids in the capital Kuala Lumpur. Since the World Cup began on June 12 in Brazil, a total of 194 people, mostly men, have been held. They could face up to five years in prison if charged and found guilty under the Muslim-majority country's betting act. In neighbouring Thailand, police said Wednesday that they had arrested more than 1,000 people over illegal World Cup betting, seizing betting slips worth $525,000 during raids. Also this week, Singapore police said they had held 15 people suspected of having received illegal bets amounting to about Sg$800,000 ($641,000) in the past two weeks in the city-state, which has become notorious for football-linked crime. And in Macau, police busted an illegal gambling outfit that racked up HK$5 billion (US$645 million) in wagers on the World Cup in a week, including a single bet of US$5.1 million. Twenty-two people were arrested in the operation, which police described as the largest-ever case of its kind in the Asian gambling enclave.

Source: "200 held in Malaysia for WC betting", 27 June 2014, Banglanews24.com https://banglanews24.com/en/fullnews/bn/94172.html

United States

Three men have been indicted on 23 charges for allegedly conducting an illegal gambling business. A federal grand jury returned charges against 66-year-old Paul Borrelli and 32-year-old Joseph Ruff, both of Rochester, and 40-year-old Mark Ruff of Connecticut. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert A. Marangola tells the Messenger's news partner News10NBC that since January 2012, Borrelli, Joseph Ruff and Mark Ruff have conducted an illegal gambling business involving sports betting. Investigators say that betting utilized multiple offshore internet gambling websites. Authorities seized more than $80,000 in gambling proceeds at various locations as a result of today’s raids. If convicted of the illegal gambling offense, the three men face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Source: "Three indicted on gambling charges after raids in Greece, Charlotte", 25 June 2014, Henriettapost
 

LEGISLATION

Cambodia

Cambodia is considering regulating its online sports betting market as it crafts overdue updates to the country’s gaming laws. The Ministry of Economy and Finance’s gaming department is currently drafting a new Casino Law, which could be finalized by the end of the year. Ministry spokesman Ros Phirun told the Phnom Penh Post that while Cambodia wasn’t yet ready to issue licenses for online betting, "it is in the process of being studied.” Sports betting is largely illegal in Cambodia although occasionally tolerated inside certain casinos.

Source: Steven Stradbrooke, "Cambodia considers regulated online sports betting as it revises gaming laws", 24 June 2014, CalvinAyre
 

ODDS AND ENDS

Cameroon

Volker Finke has emphatically denied any suggestion that his Cameroon players might have been engaged in match-fixing during the 4-0 defeat against Croatia in their second group game. The subject was raised after Ralf Mutschke, Fifa’s head of security, was reported to have said that Cameroon’s result in Manaus last Wednesday had been discussed by officials, who look closely at all the World Cup games to guard against possible match-fixing. Mutschke has given no indication that Fifa is planning to take any action against Cameroon. Mutschke, a former Interpol executive and police offer, admitted on the eve of the World Cup that certain teams and groups had been identified as being vulnerable to fixers. He has suggested that the last round of group matches, involving teams with nothing to play for – which is the case with Cameroon who take on Brazil in Brasília tonight – carried a greater risk.

Source: Stuart James, "Cameroon’s Volker Finke says match-fixing is ‘out of the question’", 23 June 2014, The Guardian

Canada

In the absence of a stand-alone law to combat match-fixing in Canada, the bill to legalize single-event sports betting could be a step in the right direction, says Paul Burns, vice-president of the Canadian Gaming Association (CGA). Bill C-290 is the NDP private member's bill introduced in 2011 and supported by the Conservative government. Burns said it could be passed this fall, despite opposition from the National Hockey League (NHL), Major League Baseball and the National College Athletic Association. In April 2010, when he was the minister responsible for BC Lottery Corp., Rich Coleman wrote to federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson to support an amendment, saying that regulators could better protect the integrity of sports with single-bet legalization. Toronto lawyer Danielle Bush of Miller Thomson said the legal provincial monopolies should be lobbying for anti-match-fixing laws. She said existing bribery, corruption, fraud and cheating-at-play laws are unlikely to withstand a test. Bush said that Canada's bribery legislation deals mainly with attempts to illegally influence judicial and government officers; it would be too hard to prove spectators and legal gamblers were defrauded by a fixed match, and cheating at play may not cast a wide enough net.

Source: Bob Mackin, "Canada needs law to battle sports match-fixing, Canadian Gaming Summit attendees told", 27 June 2014, BIV https://www.biv.com/article/20140627/BIV0120/307019978/-1/BIV0100/weekend-read-canada-needslaw- 

Zimbabwe

The Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture Andrew Langa has threatened to dissolve the Sports and Recreation Commission board for failing to discharge its mandate. The SRC is the supreme decision-making body in the country. The SRC were the main instigators of the Asiagate match-fixing investigations which saw officials and players banned for throwing football matches. The SRC was established by an Act of Parliament and falls under the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture. Given the fact that sport in the country is growing, there may be no need for the SRC anymore. In fact, after last Thursday’s failure by eight of the nine board members to attend the football indaba at Zifa Village, it became apparent that the SRC board no longer has a reason to remain in office. Langa must go ahead and appoint a new SRC board, but must ensure that the new board will play their oversight role across all sporting disciplines so that the country benefits.

Source: "SRC must be punished", 24 June 2014, NewsDay https://www.newsday.co.zw/2014/06/24/src-must-punished/ 

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