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INTERPOL: Integrity in Sport - Bi-weekly bulletin

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INVESTIGATIONS

National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF)

Suspicion of a match-fixing around PSG-Red Star Belgrade: the investigation closed

The National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) has closed its preliminary investigation into suspicions of rigging of the Champions League match between Paris-SG and the Red Star of Belgrade in October 2018, said Thursday the lawyer of the Serbian club, confirming information from the Team.

The PNF informed lawyers of this decision on May 7 in a classification notice. An investigation for “criminal association” with a view to the commission of an offense of sports corruption and with a view to the commission of an offense of fraud in an organized gang was opened after the match.

According to The team, which had revealed this investigation, the European football authorities (UEFA) had been alerted before the meeting of October 3, 2018 that a leader of the Red Star was preparing to invest nearly five million euros on a defeat of his team by five goals. However on October 3, 2018, the PSG had beaten the Serbs 6 to 1. “Since the start of the investigation, the Red Star has expressed its wish to collaborate in this investigation and to identify the source of this malicious and anonymous denunciation.“, Me Antoine Vey, lawyer for the Serbian club, told AFP.”

It is therefore a satisfaction to note that nothing has made it possible to confirm this false allegation.“ “There remains the question of the damage caused to the club on which we will see if we take legal action or not.“, he added. In October 2018, after the opening of the investigation, the Red Star announced its intention to file a complaint for slanderous denunciation.

The original article can be found here.

Netherlands

Dutch police launch investigation into match-fixing

According to local reports, the Dutch police have launched an investigation over suspicion of match-fixing after large bets were placed on a footballer who received a yellow card during an Eredivisie game. The incident is believed to be the first criminal inquiry into ‘spot-fixing,’ which is when players take money for doing certain things during a match, in this case receiving a yellow card.

The authorities were alerted to the issue after people noticed some unusual betting patterns; one gambler had placed five bets with the same bookmaker for a total of €3,000 ($3,625) and managed to win €13,000, while two more gamblers earned around €1,000 each. Due to an ongoing investigation, the identity of the player has not been mentioned; however, according to reports Sparta Rotterdam has identified its defender Tom Beugelsdijk to be involved in the investigation.

Sparta has, though, confirmed there will be no issues with the defender playing as the investigation proceeds. A spokesman for the police had confirmed that the incident was been taken “very seriously” and that the case could potentially be counted as fraud. The Netherlands doesn’t report many cases of match-fixing and professor of sports law at the VU university in Amsterdam, Marjan Olfers, is quoted as saying the country is lagging behind in this area.

Olfers said: “The Netherlands is a kind of blind spot. Until now we’ve never had a match-fixing case that led to a prosecution. I welcome the fact that the public prosecution service are going to see if there is more to this case.” Olfers continued to say this could be bigger than first thought, as often there are organisations behind such actions.

The original article can be found here.

Lanka Avishka

Gunawardena not guilty at T10 match-fixing

Former Sri Lanka international Avishka Gunawardena has been cleared of match-fixing by the International Cricket Council. Gunawardena was charged in 2019 for “directly or indirectly soliciting” a participant to “influence improperly the result of a match” and for failing to report the approach. The charges related to the 2018 United Arab Emirates’ T10 League. Opening batsman Gunawardena is now free to resume participation in cricket. His compatriot Nuwan Zoysa, who was banned from all cricket for six years in April, was also charged at the same time, and has been cleared of three offences but found guilty of failing to co-operate with the investigation. Zoysa, 45, played 30 Tests and 95 ODIs and was Sri Lanka bowling coach from 2015 until his suspension in 2019. Gunawardena, 43, played six Tests and 61 ODIs between 1999 and 2006 and was Sri Lanka’s interim batting coach in 2019.

The original article can be found here.

Sri Lanka

The T20 tournament that wasn’t: how fixers fabricated the UvaT20 League

Late last June, while the world was at a standstill, two teams walked out on to the cricket field in the little city of Badulla, high in the Sri Lankan hills, to play the opening game of the inaugural UvaT20 League. It was a new, seven-day round-robin tournament between what the marketing people described as “four star-studded teams” of local Sri Lankan players, each led by an “icon”.

The blurb mentioned Tillakaratne Dilshan, Thilan Thushara, Farveez Maharoof, and Ajantha Mendis, although, oddly, neither Dilshan nor Mendis seemed to be there for the toss on Monday 29 June for the first game between their two teams, the Monaragala Hornets and the Wellawaya Vipers. Maharoof, who played 22 Tests for Sri Lanka, didn’t seem to know anything about it. “This is fake. No one has spoken to me neither I’m interested to speak or to play the tournament,” he wrote on Twitter, “please don’t give any publicity.”

‘The crux of my summers’: volunteers’ mission to revive friendly cricket Read more Still the sun was out, the Hornets had won the toss and decided to bat first and the live stream was up and running on YouTube. “Live action is coming all the way from Badulla Cricket Ground,” said the commentators. “It’s a grassy ground, and we can see everywhere, grass, so no chance of any fielders getting injured.” Advertisement The footage was a little fuzzy, the camera angles a little awkward, but at least they were playing. Matches had been cancelled, or postponed, around the world, Bangladesh had only just announced they were pulling out of a planned tour of Sri Lanka, but at least “the Uva T20 Premier League is here to keep fans entertained”.

Since this was the only live game at the time, and the scores were being carried on a popular Indian streaming app, viewing figures started to grow – first hundreds, then thousands, and the online betting markets, starved of action for the previous few weeks, sprung into life. It was a great game too. The Hornets finished on 203 for six after their No 6, “Pradeep Witharana”, walloped 76 off the final four overs, and the Vipers chased it down with nine balls to spare, through a fine 67 off 36 from their No 4, “Lahiru Maduwantha”.

The result was all the more startling for the few people who were at the Badulla cricket ground that day, because the place was empty. But 1,660 miles away in Mohali, northern India, local police were closing in on the Strokers Cricket Association Academy ground in the village of Sawara. The Strokers’ ground had recently been hired for the week by a local businessman who said he wanted to use it to stage an age-group tournament. He had paid a £100 deposit, and promised another £200 when the tournament was over, so the club let him get on with it.

“We don’t know who came to the ground, and other such details,” one of the club officials told the Indian Express. “We don’t know who was organising this match. Even we were not allowed inside. They had blocked the view with tents around the ground.” It wasn’t an age-group tournament at all, but one of the most elaborate gambling scams since Robert Redford and Paul Newman persuaded Robert Shaw to stick half-a-million on Lucky Dan to win the third at Riverside.

Among all the people affected by the shutdown, – the players, coaches, fans, and administrators – the fixers were hit as badly as anyone. With no sport there was no action and with no action there was no income. Since there was no live sport to try to fix, one syndicate decided it would just have to stage its own event instead. “It was an outrageous plot,” says one of the investigating anti-corruption officials, “but it grew out of lockdown desperation, because they’d run out of things to try to target. It was completely bizarre.

We’ve seen ghost events before, where people report on things that aren’t actually happening, but nothing quite like this. Their ability to shift markets, shift methods, is amazing.” The syndicate behind the scam had already been organising “unofficial” local tournaments, which were not recognised by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (it got around that problem by setting up its own organisation, the “Cricket Council of India”, with a strikingly similar logo to the one used by the BCCI) involving players from small villages across northern India.

They recruited a group of “20 or 30” of those unknown and unregistered players and gave them all Sri Lankan pseudonyms. When the police got inside the Strokers’ ground, they found the syndicate had even put up a series of fake advertising hoardings featuring the names of well-known Sri Lankan companies, just to give it an added authenticity.

It turned out it had also hired a local media consultant to design the teams, build a website, distribute press releases and promotional material, and forged a series of emails from officials at Sri Lanka Cricket that it used to persuade service providers to carry its streams and live scores. It had also ordered boxes of new kit decorated with fake logos and sponsors, leased an internet connection, set up three cameras on a five-second delay and roped in two commentators. “All just so they could create a betting market pretending it was in Sri Lanka,” one of the investigators said, a market they then manipulated by giving instructions to the players. The first anyone in Badulla, or at Sri Lanka Cricket, knew about the UvaT20 League they were supposedly hosting but was taking place 1,600 miles away was when they began to get inquiries asking them what was going on.

The same goes for all the Sri Lankan players who were supposed to be involved. The UvaT20 League that never was folded after two matches, a surreal little footnote in the history of cricket, and one of the stranger sports stories of lockdown.

The original article can be found here.

SENTENCES/SANCTIONS

Argentina

Nicolás Arreche from Argentina provisionally suspended

Argentinian tennis player Nicolás Arreche has been provisionally suspended from the sport by independent Anti-Corruption Hearing Officer (AHO) Professor Richard McLaren pending the full consideration of charges against him. With immediate effect, he is prohibited from competing in or attending any sanctioned tennis event organised by the governing bodies of the sport. The provisional suspension relates to an ongoing investigation by the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) into alleged breaches of the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program (TACP).

The provisional suspension was granted under section F.3 of the TACP 2021: “The ITIA may at any time make an application to an AHO for a Provisional Suspension of a Covered Person, including (i) before a Notice of Major Offense has been issued, (ii) before a Hearing or (iii) at any time after a Hearing but prior to the AHO’s issuance of a written Decision. Provisional Suspensions (and challenges and reviews thereof under this Section F.3) shall ordinarily be determined on written submissions unless the AHO considers an oral hearing necessary.”

The International Tennis Integrity Agency is an independent body established by the International Governing Bodies of Tennis to promote, encourage, enhance and safeguard the integrity of professional tennis worldwide.

The original article can be found here.

Lithuania

Lithuanian basketball player found guilty of match fixing

A member of Lithuania's Taurag City Basketball Club has been found guilty of match fixing, following a pre-trial investigation conducted by Klaipda Regional Prosecutor's Office. The player in question was ruled to have compromised the result of eight matches between November 2019 and March 2020. According to the investigation, led by prosecutor Vaida Pužauskien, “the athlete intentionally played in such a way that the opposing teams would break out ahead and win the match”, after another party had placed bets on these matches.

This included “not following the coach’s instructions [and] stopping offensive plays”. Due to the fact that the player admitted guilt and the incident was a first offence, they were given bail conditions rather than a criminal prosecution. Bail was set for one year and six months without a deposit, and the player was ordered to make a € 1,500 donation to the country’s Victims’ Fund. A statement from Lithuanian Gambling Authority said: “Manipulation of high-skill sports competitions is one of the biggest threats to Lithuanian sports. Because sports and betting are often closely intertwined, the Gambling Authority has always paid close attention to this area.

“Cooperation, exchange of information, awareness of the problem, education and awareness of sport, the gaming world and the general public contribute to fair competition based on sporting achievements rather than agreements or financial interests, which also helps to ensure that gamblers as well as licensed betting operators protection of companies from staged matches and criminal agreements.”

The original article can be found here.

United Kingdom

One-year ban for Near Kettering owners over lay bets placed against their horse

Two owners have been banned from racing for a year after admitting they placed lay bets against their horse, Near Kettering, on three occasions in 2019, even though they still wanted him to win. A disciplinary panel ruled on Thursday that Rob Drye and Helen Webster would have to be excluded from the sport, despite mitigating factors, because "the ban on any lay betting by owners against their own horse is absolute". The verdict followed a six-hour hearing on Tuesday, at which Drye accepted responsibility for devising and directing what he believed was an efficient betting strategy, making much use of a Betfair account in the name of Webster, his partner.

The pair profited by around £200,000 when Near Kettering won at Thirsk and Sedgefield in the space of a fortnight in August 2019 but as part of their strategy they also placed dozens of bets against their horse, with the twin aims of shoring up his prerace odds and then mitigating their losses if he was narrowly beaten. A statement from the BHA judicial panel said the pair were "not acting dishonestly", but added: "They acted in grossly culpable ignorance of what the rule required. "They stood to make a profit in each of the first two races even if the horse had lost, smaller than the win profit but substantial nevertheless.

Their activities in the pre-race lay market had the effect of distorting [and almost certainly improving] the odds available to them when they switched to backing Near Kettering. "While the absence of an interest in the horse losing is a mitigating factor, it does not take the case outside the range of those that will attract disqualification." There was lengthy argument at the hearing about exactly how much profit the pair would have made, had Near Kettering been beaten at Thirsk or Sedgefield, with Drye repeatedly insisting the BHA had overstated its case on this point. But the panel said: "Racing would be impossible to administer if a lengthy inquisition had to be carried out to find if any given owner who indulges in lay betting against his own horse has a financial interest in its defeat."

Owner made 'the most basic of errors' The 42-year-old Drye was described during the hearing as "a self-employed IT consultant, assisting companies in rolling out large-scale infrastructure projects". He told the panel he was embarrassed by his failure to realise his activities were not allowed. "Never in a million years did I think the strategy was in any way corrupt or going to fall foul of the rules," he said. "Ultimately, it is a back-bet strategy that was never designed to profit from the horse losing. It was designed to be efficient and profit from the horse winning.

"I have always assumed the rules around the laying of horses were to stop the corrupt element of the sport. I just simply did not associate what we were doing with anything corrupt and therefore did not imagine we would fall foul of the rules." Of the work required in preparing his defence, Drye said: "It's not just been time-consuming and costly for the BHA, I assure you it's been exceptionally time-consuming at this end as well. It's frustrating for all concerned, how I've managed to find myself in such a position by way of making the most basic of errors."

Jeremy Phillips QC, presenting Drye's case, suggested the panel should consider whether any penalty was required in the circumstances. That was countered for the BHA by Tomas Nolan, who stressed that the matter was viewed seriously by the ruling body. "Horseracing and betting have a symbiotic relationship and each support the other," he said. "It is crucial to the health of the sport that the betting market on horseracing is honest and fair. Allowing owners to manipulate the market in the fashion the respondents have and to escape with anything other than lengthy disqualifications would send a message that this sport is ripe for corruption and the regulator is not disturbed by this. That would be extremely detrimental to the sport."

Phillips said in a statement that Drye and Webster were "glad the panel accepted that they were not acting dishonestly . . . they said that it had never been their intention to profit had Near Kettering lost. The lay bets had simply been part of a more efficient betting strategy which they had not realised at the time was technically in breach of the rules."

The original article can be found here.

United States

2 teams permanently banned by Valve for match fixing in DPC

North American DPC lower division teams Wind and Rain and Pecado Squad Gaming have been removed from the league and given permanent bans from all Valve-sponsored tournaments. This follows a series of accusations made against the teams by former teammates as well as Dota 2 fans. accusations made against the teams by former teammates as well as Dota 2 fans. Wind and Rain’s Dota 2 roster included the following players:

  • Daniil “satesate”Krivenko
  • Chad "Szabo666" Szabo
  • Jose Andree "Sword" Nicosia
  • Ilyas "Steel-_-Borco" Kaukenov
  • Vladimir "yol" Basov Pecado

Squad Gaming’s roster included the following players:

  • qqqqqqqq
  • P1
  • Duffy
  • Wdr
  • Sensibility

It is not entirely clear whether the bans will apply to the entire rosters of both teams, or if Beyond the Summit is focused on specific members who took part in match fixing. Both squads used substitutes at various points throughout the season, so it’s possible that other individuals may also be facing similar punishments.

The biggest named involved in the scandal is yol, who is a veteran of the CIS scene. He was involved with a number of notable organizations and was a part of the 2014 Virtus.pro roster that helped the esports organization first gain serious traction in Dota 2. Wind and Rain faced accusations of match fixing Before Jacky “EternaLEnVy” Mao sparked discussion regarding how individual players have “ownership” of teams when it comes to the Dota Pro Circuit, this topic was being discussed in regards to Wind and Rain.

A former player accused Szabo666 of kicking all other members of the team, leveraging the DPC spot for sponsorship from Wind and Rain, and then bringing in European and CIS players picked by the organization. The accusations against Szabo666 also specifically mentioned that satesate was a “known match fixer.” satesate was a member of the Recast Gaming lineup that was famously kicked by the organization over suspicions of matchfixing in ESL Meisterschaft Spring 2021. ESL announced that the matter was being investigated by the Esports Integrity Commission in April.

Wind and Rain denied all allegations made against it Last week, a Reddit user noted unusual betting line movement on a game between Wind and Rain and Felt. The line moved from being 1.2 vs. 3.3 in favor of Wind and Rain to 4.3 vs. 1.2 in favor of Felt. Wind and Rain lost the series 2-1. Betting lines shifting dramatically can be a sign of match fixing.

Original article can be found here.

LEGISLATION

Netherlands

Netherlands to launch new fast-track reporting system to combat match-fixing

In the Netherlands and a prominent government minister has reportedly announced that his nation intends to premiere a fasttrack reporting system so as to help combat suspected instances of match-fixing. According to a report from iGamingBusiness.com, Sander Dekker serves as the Minister for Legal Protection and he explained that the move should help to allay fears that the country’s new Money Laundering Act will have the unintended consequence of making it harder for sporting bodies to crack down on match-fixing.

This legislation is purportedly set to come into force later in the year and obliges all instances of suspected money laundering to be reported to the nation’s Financial Intelligence Unit without being shared further with non-governmental bodies.

Unintentional upshot:

However, the source reported that money laundering is often connected to match-fixing with critics of the Money Laundering Act having pointed to the real prospect that the measure’s confidentiality clause will make it more difficult for sporting organizations and their governing bodies to detect and stamp out alleged cases of fraud. Parliamentarians Michiel Van Nispen, Mirjam Bikker, Paul Van Der Laan, Anne Kuik, Rudmer Heerema, Kees Van Der Staaij and Sidney Smeets have purportedly been some of this legislation’s staunchest detractors although the latter figure has since resigned following several accusations of sexually inappropriate behavior.

Rapid response:

In unveiling the government’s new plan and Dekker reportedly pronounced that his office intends to design a system that will compel the Financial Intelligence Unit to share information on suspicious activities with relevant sporting bodies as soon as possible. He moreover purportedly asserted that the coming legislation’s confidentiality clause will likely only be enacted under certain specific situations to leave sporting organizations and their governing bodies free to access data on suspicious odds movements and instances of match-fixing for non-betting purposes. Under the new system, Dekker reportedly disclosed that the Financial Intelligence Unit is to be required to flag any instances of suspected match-fixing before passing on relevant details to the applicable body. He also purportedly divulged that his office intends to conduct a strategic review into match-fixing to further establish just how these coming protocols will work.

Foreign faltering:

This latter concession reportedly came after Dekker had held a meeting with representatives from several of the Netherlands’ most prominent sporting organizations. Nevertheless, he purportedly stated that many instances of match-fixing may still go undetected as the criminal elements behind such activities are often headquartered abroad in regions such as Asia.

Deregulation dream:

Online sportsbetting is reportedly set to go live in the Netherlands from the first day of October following the 2019 passage of the nation’s Remote Gambling Act. This piece of legislation has purportedly brought in a range of licensing, taxation and consumer protection procedures with the country’s Kansspelautoriteit regulator having recently revealed that it is currently processing 28 inaugural operator licenses.

The original article can be found here.

GOOD PRACTICES

Zimbabwe

Sports Commission, National Prosecuting Authority sign MoU

THE Sports and Recreation Commission and the National Prosecuting Authority have signed a Memorandum of Understanding in a historic move expected to fight crime and corruption in sport in Zimbabwe. The MoU paves way for the prosecution of sporting and recreational crimes and offenses. Sports Commission chairperson, Gerald Mlotshwa, today said as a nation, Zimbabwe has had its fair share of sports-related corruption and other forms of crime. “Today as we witness the signing of this MoU between the NPA and the SRC, we must remain mindful of the main objective of this initiative – that is the fight against corruption in the administration of sport and recreation in Zimbabwe. “With respect to this MoU, the SRC and NPA can now implement various initiatives to capacitate and empower prosecuting officers on handling sport and recreation crimes such as age-cheating, doping, match-fixing, flouting of general laws, including court orders, to cite but a few examples. “This MoU is the first step towards the enacting of various pieces of new legislation all focused on ensuring for the betterment of sports governance and the eradication of corruption and other forms of crime from our sport,” said Mlotshwa.

The original article can be found here.

ODDS AND ENDS

Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC)

ESIC secures ‘milestone’ PandaScore data deal

The Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) has named esports data and odds supplier PandaScore as an official data partner to the organisation. Joining the likes of Esports Charts and other partners which are yet to be announced, the latest partnership will facilitate collaboration between both organisations to assist ESIC in identifying and investigating suspicious betting. Furthermore, as an official data partner, PandaScore will contribute to the monitoring of betting market behaviours to uncover data-driven insights which will contribute to ESIC’s overall ongoing risk monitoring activities.

Stephen Hanna, ESIC’s Director of Global Strategy and Partnerships, commented: “We are excited to further expand ESIC’s growing network of official data partners with the entrance of PandaScore as ESIC’s latest official data partner. Reliable data is at the centre of ESIC’s ability to effectively administer its Integrity Programme. Partnering with reliable data providers that possess an integrity mindset, like PandaScore, is a step towards more effective administration of a global integrity framework.”

The deal becomes the second partnership announced in as many months, after the commission was forced to clarify its stance on betting in esports, reaffirming that it is neither ‘advocates for betting nor crusaders against it’. In April, ESIC certified Czech betting software provider Oddin as an ‘anti-corruption supporter’, safeguarding pro-esports interests against the threats of match-fixing and manipulation. “Partnering with ESIC is a milestone moment for PandaScore, solely driven by our commitment to combat match-fixing and uphold our industry’s integrity to the highest standards,” added Flavien Guillocheau, CEO of PandaScore. “Through the power of high-quality data, we hope to be a key contributor to the successful implementation of ESIC’s Global Integrity Framework, ensuring the sustainable growth of our burgeoning esports industry.”

The original article can be found here.

ICC

ICC finds insufficient evidence in cricket corruption probe

The Al Jazeera programme 'Cricket's Match Fixers', broadcast on May 27, 2018, alleged incidents of spot-fixing in a Chennai Test match between India and England in December 2016 and one against Australia in Ranchi in March 2017.

The International Cricket Council has said it has not found sufficient "credible and reliable evidence" regarding the spot-fixing claims made by Al Jazeera in 2018 and will not bring any charges under the governing body's anti-corruption code. The Al Jazeera programme 'Cricket's Match Fixers', broadcast on May 27, 2018, alleged incidents of spot-fixing in a Chennai Test match between India and England in December 2016 and one against Australia in Ranchi in March 2017.

The documentary also made allegations that the stadium manager at Galle in Sri Lanka may have doctored the pitch at the behest of fixers and suggested minor T20 competitions had also been targeted. The ICC said it had engaged four independent betting and cricketing specialists to analyse the claims and all four concluded that the passages of play identified in the programme were not likely to have been fixed. "We welcome the reporting of alleged corrupt activity within cricket as there is no place for such conduct in our sport, but we also need to be satisfied there is sufficient evidence to sustain charges against participants," said Alex Marshall, ICC general manager - integrity. "

On the basis of the programme, the Participants to the Code who were filmed appear to have behaved in a questionable manner, however, we have been unable to assess the full context of the conversations that took place beyond what was seen on screen versus what the Participants claim actually happened. "This combined with the absence of any other credible evidence means there are insufficient grounds to bring charges under the ICC Anti-Corruption Code."

The original article can be found here.

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