INTERPOL Integrity in Sport Bi-Weekly Bulletin - 6 November 2018 - 19 November 2018
published on 21 November 2018
Over the past two weeks, media covered various match-fixing cases in several sports, results of operations related to organized crime and betting, as well as new partnerships and best practices in the world of sports.
In tennis, a Guatemalan player has been banned from tennis for three years and fined $5,000 after admitting to match-fixing and failing to report a corrupt approach to the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU). In cricket, a former Sri Lanka all-rounder was suspended by the International Cricket Council (ICC) after charging him with match-fixing during the T10 League in the United Arab Emirates in 2017. Also related to cricket, India won the plea to extradite a suspected cricket bookie from the United Kingdom. In football, a Liverpool striker denied gambling on his sport after the Football Association found him guilty of misconduct for placing bets in January 2018.
Badminton Denmark indicated that the Badminton World Federation (BWF) should sanction Chinese players for a match at Fuzhou China Open which they believe was fixed.
BWF stated it would not comment on the issue prior to receiving a report from the tournament’s organizers.
Italy's anti-mafia police arrested 68 individuals accused of mafia association, money laundering, fraud and tax dodging in a large scale operation on organized crime groups making millions through online gambling. Some 800 policemen were mobilised to bring in suspects from families in the south of Italy from the Cosa Nostra in Sicily, 'Ndrangheta in Calabria and Sacra Corona Unita in Puglia. The total of assets seized, including real estates, companies and bank accounts, were worth around one billion euros.
Portuguese authorities working alongside Europol and Eurojust have arrested 30 individuals in Portugal for providing illegal gambling services. Operation Shadow Game is said to have spanned Belgium, Luxembourg, Portugal and Switzerland and used servers and software for the development of games of chance, lotteries and sports betting. A total of €576,000 in cash was seized, alongside 3,000 computer devices used for illegal gambling, 22 firearms, 86 vehicles, and several bank accounts holding more than €6m.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) published new statistics showing that 33 offshore betting sites withdrew from Australian markets over 12 months. Reforms to the Interactive Gambling Act 2001, which came into effect in September 2017, expanded the ACMA’s powers to take action against prohibited and unlicensed offshore gambling sites. Maximum penalties of nearly $8 million per day can apply to corporations.
Also in terms of betting, Dutch gambling regulator the Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) has fined Curaao-based CyberRock Entertainment and its Cyprus-based subsidiary Honeydew Trading €350,000 for running an illegal gambling site. In India, police arrested more than 100 individuals for gambling and seized approximately $30,000 in cash and $250,000 in chips.
In terms of new partnerships, the Global Lottery Monitoring System (GLMS) and Europol signed a Memorandum of Understanding to share information on competition manipulation and increase their cooperation in the field of education and capacity-building. Additionally, the National Basketball Association (NBA) signed a multi-year partnership with Francaise des Jeux (FDJ), making it the NBA’s first-ever European gaming partner.
INTERPOL and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) conducted an Integrity in Sport Regional Workshop on 6 and 7 November 2018 in Frankfurt, Germany. The workshop <https://www.interpol.int/News-and-media/News/2018/N2018-131> brought together more than 70 representatives from German law enforcement, government, betting entities and sports organizations, as well as high-level delegations from Austria and Switzerland. The event was hosted in close cooperation with the German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) and the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB). It was supported by the Council of Europe and Sportradar. The event allowed INTERPOL to strengthen its links with key members of its Match-Fixing Task Force and reinforce ties with investigators for the sharing of information, intelligence and best practices.
A Swiss prosecutor who led a four-year corruption investigation into the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and international soccer officials is out of the job. The agreement to terminate his employment contract came following joint discussions between Switzerland’s attorney general and the said prosecutor who was cleared of possible misconduct in the FIFA investigation.
FIFA’s President stated that he will request the term “corruption” is restored to the ethics code covering world soccer after criticism over its symbolic removal.
The Chairman of Association Sportive de Monaco Football Club (AS Monaco FC) has been charged by Monaco prosecutors in an investigation into suspected corruption.
The next bi-weekly bulletin will be circulated on Monday, 10 December 2018.
Denmark makes racket over "match-fixing" Chinese badminton players
The national association for badminton in Denmark says the sport’s world federation should punish Chinese players for a match at last week’s Fuzhou China Open which has been described as a “farce”.
Bo Jensen, director of Badminton Denmark, wants the Badminton World Federation (BWF) to take action after seeing footage of a quarter final match in which He Jiting and Ta Qiang defeated Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen in three sets.
“I am giving my support to the criticism. This is cheating, it’s match-fixing and we can’t accept it,” Jensen said to TV2 Sport.
“In our context, this is just as bad as doping, and it must be punished because if it is not, we will damage the sport’s reputation amongst fans and the many sponsors that are making huge investments at the moment,” he added.
Several Danish badminton players are reported to have been present during the match. Doubles pair Mads Pieler Kolding and Mads Conrad-Petersen lodged a complaint with tournament organisers following the match about the way it had been played.
Another player, Hans-Kristian Vittinghus, later posted an update on Facebook in which he compared the match to a scandal during the 2012 Olympic Games in London, when eight players from China, South Korea and Indonesia were disqualified for deliberately trying to lose.
“This was a complete farce of a match which made me think of the London Olympics when 4 pairs deliberately tried to lose their matches. I kid you not, it was this bad,” Vittinghus wrote, citing errors in play that “just (don’t) happen at this level”.
“Difficult to get hard evidence, but if you have watched a bare minimum of world class badminton, you’d know what just happened,” he also wrote.
The BWF told TV2 Sport that it would not comment on the issue prior to receiving a report from the tournament’s organisers.
Source: Ritzau/The Local, 12 November 2018, The Local DK
Italy busts international online gambling mafia ring
One billion euros’ worth of assets seized across 12 countries included luxury apartments and a football team. Italy's anti-mafia police arrested 68 suspected mobsters today in a vast international blitz on organised crime groups that had joined forces to make millions of euros through online gambling. Some 800 policemen were mobilised to bring in suspects from families in the south of Italy from the Cosa Nostra in Sicily, 'Ndrangheta in Calabria and Sacra Corona Unita (SCU) in Puglia, the national organised crime fighting body said in a statement.
"The 'Ndrangheta, and the mafias in Sicily and Puglia, no longer exist. They are now fluid organisations that manage different businesses between them," said the unit's head, Federico Cafiero de Raho. The "younger generation" are making a "decisive contribution" to these family businesses with their technological knowledge, said prosecutors. The groups had made deals with businesses in the online betting sector, enabling them to recycle large sums of money through "illegal parallel circuits" on the betting platforms in exchange for promotion and protection.
The sting was carried out with the help of Eurojust, the European Union's judicial agency in The Hague, as well as police in Britain, the Netherlands, Serbia and Switzerland. Goods and cash were seized in Albania, Austria, Britain, Germany, the Isle of Man, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Romania, Serbia, the Seychelles and Switzerland. In total the assets seized, which included luxury apartments and a football team, were worth around one billion euros. Those arrested were accused of mafia association, money laundering, fraud and tax dodging.
"We have an increasingly clear picture" of the dealings between once-rival mafia associations in Italy, Cafiero de Raho said. "We can see from ongoing investigations how the mafias work together in different sectors. We still need to establish whether there is a fixed leadership or if the deals change depending on the territories involved," he said.
Investigators were given a big hand by a Sicilian mobster who helped infiltrate the gambling sector but collaborated with the police after he realised the profit-hungry gangsters "would never have let him quit", prosecutors in Catania said. Prosecutors in Reggio Calabria said its investigation into the online gambling sector in Italy's southern tip had uncovered a secret 'Ndrangheta meeting-place -- the Our Lady of the Mountain sanctuary in the heart of the Aspromonte mountains.
Some of those arrested had put up photos on their social media accounts flaunting their ill-gotten gains -- pictures the prosecutor's office published today. The images showed portly mobsters in robes at a spa, showing off Rolex watches and Ferraris, eating lobster and oysters, dining near the Eiffel Tower in Paris and gambling in the Bellagio casino in Las Vegas. [...]
Source: 14 November 2018, AFP/The Local
Europol supports Portugal in huge operation targeting illicit lotteries and sports betting
The Fiscal Action Unit of the Portuguese Republican National Guard, together with the Territorial Command of Setúbal and with the support of a number of other Territorial Commands from Portugal*, as well as Luxembourg and Europol successfully carried out operation SHADOW GAME from 6 to 8 November.
After an investigation of 15 months, coordinated by Eurojust and Europol, participating law enforcement forces carried out 267 house searches in Portugal and 8 house searches in Luxembourg earlier this week. As a result of these, 30 individuals were arrested in Portugal, and one detained in Luxembourg in accordance with the European Arrest Warrant. EUR 576,000 have been seized in cash alongside some 3,000 computer devices used for illegal gambling, 22 firearms, 86 vehicles, including several luxury vehicles and several bank accounts resulting in the recovery of more than 6 million EUR in criminal assets. Fourteen commercial companies and 93 people from Portugal, Luxembourg, as well as Brazil and Switzerland were also indicted.
The investigation revealed a structured and hierarchical transnational criminal organisation operating in various EU Member States (Belgium, Luxembourg, Portugal) and Switzerland. The criminal organisation was active in the field of servers and software for the development of games of chance, lotteries and sports betting. The purpose of the network was to obtain and maximize illicit revenues by dividing them along the chain of operators and reinvesting them in economic sectors and licit enterprises. The total amount of criminal profits obtained in Portugal and in Luxembourg is currently estimated at EUR 80 million.
Europol supported this investigation by providing on-going analytical support, organising and funding operational meetings between Portugal and Luxembourg and by deploying its staff members and mobile office capabilities to Portugal and Luxembourg during the action days to prepare and assist both country’s National Authorities with on-the-spot real time intelligence analysis, which has already allowed for the identification of new international links.
* Viana do Castelo, Braga, Porto, Vila Real, Aveiro, Viseu, Coimbra, Guarda, Leiria, Lisbon, Évora and Faro
Source: 9 November 2018, Europol
India wins plea to extradite suspected cricket bookie Chawla from UK
Britain’s high court on Friday upheld India’s appeal against a lower court’s October 2017 judgement blocking the extradition of suspected cricket bookie Sanjeev Chawla, ruling that “there will be no real risk” to him in Tihar Jail, where he will be lodged, if extradited.
The ruling reflects improved paperwork and responsiveness of Indian authorities in extradition cases lodged in Britain. Chawla is wanted in India for prosecution for his role in fixing cricket matches between India and South Africa in February-March 2000.
Chawla’s case involved the home ministry submitting three sovereign assurances to the courts on the conditions in which he would be lodged in Tihar. His extradition was blocked by judge Rebecca Crane of the Westminster magistrates court on the ground of a real risk to his human rights in Tihar.
India appealed in the high court on the ground that the lower court did not take into account its second assurance, which provided more details and guarantees of his personal safety and facilities that would be available to him.
Delivering the judgement after receiving the third assurance about facilities such as personal space, medical attention and toilet, justice Leggatt and justice Dingemans said: “In these circumstances, having regard to all of the information available to this Court about Tihar prisons, the terms of the third assurance (which was not before the district judge) are sufficient to show that there will be no real risk that Mr Chawla will be subjected to impermissible treatment in Tihar prisons.
“Therefore, pursuant to the provisions of section 106 of the Extradition Act 2003, we quash the order discharging Mr Chawla, remit the case to the district judge, and direct the district judge to proceed as if the district judge had not ordered Mr Chawla’s discharge.”
India submitted to the courts detailed evidence about Chawla’s role in match-fixing, with Crane remarking that she was “satisfied that there is a prima facie case…The affidavit of Bhisham Singh, the deputy commissioner of police, dated 18.05.15, also contains a very detailed summary of the evidence.”
Chawla’s defence raised four issues to block extradition: passage of time, human rights, prison conditions and right to family life. Crane had dismissed all objections except the risk to his human rights in Tihar based on reports by NGOs, expert evidence, press reports and Indian court rulings.
However, after India submitted further details and guarantees in the third assurance to the high court, the case now returns to the Westminster magistrates court that will be required to “proceed as if the district judge had not ordered” Chawla’s discharge in October 2017.
According to court documents, Chawla was born in New Delhi in 1967 and lived in India until 1996, when he moved to the UK on a business visa. He has been in the UK since then, but his Indian passport was revoked in 2000. He was granted permanent UK residency in 2003 and obtained a UK passport in 2005. [...]
Source: Prasun Sonwalkar, 17 November 2018, Hindustan Times
Liverpool: Sturridge accused of match fixing
As reported on English media, Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge denies ever gambling on football despite allegedly breaching Football Association (FA) betting regulations. The 29-year-old was charged with misconduct by the FA after being accused of contravening rules E8(1)(a)(ii) and E8(1)(b) in January of this year. He has until November 20 to respond to the charge. Liverpool insist the player has cooperated fully throughout the FA's investigation and say the former Chelsea forward is adamant he has never bet on football.
"Daniel has given his full and unequivocal cooperation throughout this process and has assured the club he will continue to do so," a Liverpool spokesperson said on Monday. "Daniel has also stated categorically that he has never gambled on football. As with any issue of this nature, we will allow the process to be concluded in its entirety before making any further comment." It is unclear whether Sturridge's alleged offences took place after he joined West Brom on loan on January 29.
Source: Emanuele Giulianelli, 12 November 2018, Calciomercato
Christopher Diaz-Figueroa banned and fined for tennis match-fixing offence
Guatemalan tennis player Christopher Diaz-Figueroa has been banned from tennis for three years and fined $5,000 after admitting to match-fixing and failing to report a corrupt approach to the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU).
The third year of ineligibility and the fine of $5,000 are suspended provided no further breaches of the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program (TACP) occur during the three-year period.
The case against Mr Diaz-Figueroa, 28, was adjudicated by independent Anti-Corruption Hearing Officer Prof Richard H McLaren and based on an investigation by the TIU.
In a decision announced on 13th November, Prof McLaren found the player guilty of match-fixing offences relating to the Czech Republic F12 ITF Futures tournament played in November 2017.
The finding of guilt and imposition of the suspension means that with immediate effect Mr Diaz-Figueroa is prohibited from playing in or attending any sanctioned events organised or recognised by the governing bodies of the sport.
The breaches of the 2017 TACP for which he has been sanctioned are as follows:
Section D.1.d: "No Covered Person shall, directly or indirectly, contrive or attempt to contrive the outcome or any other aspect of any Event.”
Section D.2.a.i: “In the event any Player is approached by any person who offers or provides any type of money, benefit or Consideration to a Player to (i) influence the outcome or any other aspect of any Event, or (ii) provide Inside Information, it shall be the Player's obligation to report such incident to the TIU as soon as possible.”
Mr Diaz-Figueroa is currently ranked 723 in singles and reached a career-best of 326 in October 2011.
The Tennis Integrity Unit is an initiative of the Grand Slam Board, the International Tennis Federation, the ATP and the WTA, who are jointly committed to a zero tolerance approach to corruption in tennis.
Source: 14 November 2018, Tennis Integrity Unit
ICC suspends Lokuhettige on match-fixing charges
Former Sri Lanka all-rounder Dilhara Lokuhettige was suspended by the ICC after charging him with match-fixing during the T10 League in UAE last year. The ICC said it has charged Lokuhettige on behalf of Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) since it was appointed by them as the Designated Anti-Corruption Official for the purposes of the ECB's Code.
The 38-year-old, who played nine ODIs and two T20s for Sri Lanka, has been charged with three counts of ECB's anti-corruption code. The charges cover "being party to an effort to fix or contrive or to otherwise influence improperly the result, progress, conduct, or other aspect(s) of a Domestic Match.
The second charge deals with "Directly soliciting, inducing, enticing or encouraging a player to breach Code Article." And "failure to disclose to the Designated Anti-Corruption Officer (without unnecessary delay) full details of any approaches or invitations he received to engage in Corrupt Conduct under the Code.
Lokuhettige, who did not feature in the T10 competition, has 14 days to respond to the charges. Sri Lankan cricket has been involved in multiple corruption cases in the past. The ICC had charged former Sri Lanka fast bowler Nuwan Zoysa for match-fixing and provisionally suspended him on October 31. Sanath Jayasuriya was charged with two counts of ICC's anti-corruption code, a claim the former Sri Lankan captain denied.
Source: 13 November 2018, The Week
Offshore gambling sites withdraw after targeted regulatory action
Thirty-three prominent offshore wagering sites withdrew from Australian markets over 12 months, according to a report on the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (IGA) by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). Reforms to the IGA, which came into effect on 13 September 2017, expanded the ACMA’s powers to take action against prohibited and unlicensed offshore gambling sites.
"Over the past year, we’ve moved decisively to disrupt the provision of illegal offshore gambling to Australians," said ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin. The impact of the reforms indicate revenue to illegal offshore gambling websites is falling. Statistics from Global Betting and Gaming Consultants indicate that offshore gambling expenditure will fall by over 50 per cent between 2017 and 2018.
"We’ve made it clear that Australia’s laws are unambiguous," said Ms O’Loughlin. "If you provide prohibited or unlicensed gambling services to customers in Australia, you are breaching Australian law and we will take enforcement action."
Maximum penalties of nearly $8 million per day can apply to corporations. The report also outlines the targeted education, engagement and enforcement action taken by the ACMA to raise awareness of Australia’s laws and drive compliance following regulatory reforms.
"We’ve received valuable support from overseas gambling regulators and third parties such as software providers and payment processors to change behaviour in the offshore gambling market," said Ms O’Loughlin. We expect the combination of clearer laws, an active regulator and stronger enforcement measures to continue to disrupt the provision of illegal interactive gambling services to Australians,’ says Ms O’Loughlin.
Source: 6 November 2018, The ACMA
Another gambling ring busted in India, 100 arrested
Police in India are staying busy. Officers in Siolim arrested 11 people for gambling this past weekend and Delhi police didn’t want to be outdone. They have arrested around 100 people in the Vishal Enclave of west Delhi’s Rajouri Garden.
The police raid took place Monday night after a number of tips had been submitted to law enforcement officials about a possible gambling ring operating in the enclave. In addition to the arrests, police confiscated 22 lakhs (US$30,145) in cash and 1.83 crore (US$250,000) in chips. They also seized three walkie-talkies, 27 bottle of alcohol and five hookahs.
According to Monika Bhardwaj, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, tips of alleged criminal activity are common during Diwali, the country’s festival of lights. She added that most of those arrested are part of the “upper-middle class,” stating, “During Diwali, we receive a lot of such tip-offs, this was one of those. We conducted the raid as soon as we got the information. There were around 100 people who were there for gambling. The interrogation in the case is underway. [We’re] trying to speak to the main organizer, most people belong to [the] upper-middle class profile.”
The gambling was allegedly organized by someone identified as Virendra Goyal; however, the owner of the property has not yet been found. Bhardwaj added that more details would be released once the investigation is complete and the property owner is located.
“One case has been registered with regard to the incident,” explained Bhardwaj, “while another will be registered under a separate act. We have registered a case under the Gambling Act, and will register a separate case under [the] Excise Act.”
India has spent a lot of time, money and resources trying to prevent gambling activity from taking place. However, the efforts aren’t working. Illegal gambling continues to occur and each police action only forces the games further underground. Law enforcement officials try to assert that gambling leads to crime, but the reality is that illegal gambling leads to crime. This is a lesson many states have already learned. It has helped them introduce legislation that not only protects consumers, but results in higher revenue generation for the government coffers.
Source: Erik Gibbs, 7 November 2018, CalvinEye
Dutch regulator hits operator with €350,000 illegal gambling fine
Dutch gambling regulator the Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) has fined Curaao-based CyberRock Entertainment and its Cyprus-based subsidiary Honeydew Trading €350,000 for running an illegal gambling site.
CyberRock and Honeydew were found to have targeted Dutch consumers predominantly via the sites Play2WinCasino.com and SupremePlay.com. Both sites were found to be almost entirely in Dutch, while other websites operated by the companies would change from English-language to Dutch once a player logged in.
KSA chairman René Jansen said that tackling illegal operations remained a key priority for the regulator, with many Dutch citizens unaware that online gambling is currently illegal.
“Protecting consumers is an important objective of the KSA in addition to preventing gambling addiction and combating illegality,” he explained.
“Gambling with an illegal provider implies that the consumer is not protected,” Jansen said. “They are not sure of a fair game. There is also no controls to block participation by vulnerable groups, such as minors.”
The KSA has long targeted sites that offer their products via Dutch-language sites, with the company’s iGaming legislation currently stalled in the country’s legislature.
Source: 6 November 2018, Totally Gaming
Global Lottery Monitoring System (GLMS)
Europol and GLMS join forces to combat sport competition manipulations
The Global Lottery Monitoring System (GLMS) and the European Union's law enforcement agency, Europol, signed today in The Hague a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The agreement will see the two entities share information and be in constant consultation over sport competition manipulations and related organised crime investigations. GLMS and Europol will also cooperate in running joint activities and implementing relevant projects, notably in the field of education and capacity building.
GLMS President, Ludovico Calvi, states: “We are delighted to consolidate our long-lasting and fruitful relationship with Europol and strengthen our joint efforts. Europol has played a significant role in recent years in the fight against organised crime involved in sport competitions manipulations with concrete results in relevant investigations. We have always valued their experience and innovative investigative approach. Thank to our global monitoring platform and network, we are confident that GLMS can support Europol effectively leveraging the « glocal » nature of our association with global presence and local intelligence”.
Europol Deputy Executive Director of Operations, Wil van Gemert, adds "With organised crime infiltrating sport, the phenomenon of sport competition manipulations is unfortunately an active threat to EU citizens. Europol has been taking this matter very seriously and has successfully supported far-reaching investigations over the past years. We are delighted to count on the relationship with GLMS, which thanks to its strong global network and local presence will further support us in this challenging task. Most importantly, with this agreement, we send out an important message to organised criminal groups that law enforcement and private actors like the lottery sector stand united in combating organized crime and safeguarding the integrity of sports and the values of European society.”
Source: 15 November 2018, Europol
National Basketball Association (NBA); Francaise des Jeux (FDJ)
NBA Strikes First-Ever European Sports Betting Deal, With French National Lottery
The National Basketball Association is taking its gambling partnerships overseas. On Tuesday, the league struck a multi-year partnership with Francaise des Jeux (FDJ), making it the NBA’s first-ever European gaming partner. The past few weeks have been filled with similar partnerships between major casino gaming operators and the NBA and National Hockey League (NHL). But the NBA partnering with France’s national lottery shows how far leagues have come since the US Supreme Court did away with the federal ban on sports wagering. [...]
Source: Nicholaus Garcia, 13 November 2018, Legal Sports Report
ODDS AND ENDS
Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA)
Infantino wants "corruption" term back on FIFA ethics code
FIFA President Gianni Infantino will request the term "corruption" is restored to the ethics code covering world soccer after criticism over its symbolic removal. The Associated Press revealed in August that the FIFA Council had agreed to a new version of the code that changed the title of the section on "bribery and corruption" to just "bribery," an eye-catching adjustment after a wave of cases against soccer officials in recent years.
In a response to the AP's findings in August, FIFA said in a statement which did not feature Infantino's name that "corruption" was scrubbed for "reasons of language clarity" from the main ethics documents in English, and had "no material impact ." But Infantino has now blamed a "misunderstanding" for the revision and acknowledged the need for "corruption" to specifically feature in the list of misdemeanors covering officials, coaches and players.
"I will ask the council to reinstate it," said Infantino, who succeeded Sepp Blatter in 2016. "This is a clear message that I want to send."
FIFA's ruling council, which next meets in March in Miami, agreed to changes to the code during a private meeting in Moscow in June. It also introduced a statute stating that cases of bribery and misappropriation of funds had to be prosecuted within 10 years whereas previously there was no time limit.
"We do not tolerate corruption in FIFA," Infantino told Swiss newspaper Blick in an interview published Thursday.
Leaked correspondence published last week by European Investigative Collaborations suggested Infantino interfered with the rewriting of the code by the independent ethics judge and prosecutor. FIFA maintains the revisions to the code resulted from an "open and inclusive consultation process" involving confederations and ethics officials. The limitation period to resolve bribery cases is justified by FIFA as a means of hastening the resolution of investigations, rather than allowing cases to be left hanging over officials for several years.
Source: Rob Harris, 8 November 2018, Yahoo! Sports
Swiss prosecutor cleared of misconduct in FIFA case
GENEVA (AP) — A Swiss prosecutor who led a four-year corruption investigation into FIFA and international soccer officials is out of the job. Although federal prosecutor Olivier Thormann was cleared of possible misconduct in the FIFA investigation, he has left work, the office of Switzerland’s attorney general said Friday.
“Attorney General Michael Lauber and Olivier Thormann have agreed that the latter’s employment contract will be terminated,” the federal office said in a statement. “This step has been taken following joint discussions and a thorough assessment of the situation.”
It is unclear how the change will affect a long and ongoing soccer investigation that saw criminal proceedings opened against former FIFA president Sepp Blatter , German soccer great Franz Beckenbauer and Paris Saint-Germain chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi . No charges have been brought and they deny wrongdoing.
In a separate development, a Swiss regional parliament asked its judicial commission to investigate possible conflicts of interest between a regional prosecutor and his childhood friend, FIFA President Gianni Infantino. Their relationship was detailed this month in the “Football Leaks” series of confidential documents and emails.
Thormann’s suspension from leading the financial crimes unit was revealed last week, following a complaint filed in September. Details of the complaint were not specified but it was linked to an investigation of suspected money laundering and financial crimes tied to FIFA business and World Cup bidding contests.
The federal office said the suspension had been “a precautionary measure” while a special prosecutor assessed the complaint.
“(The) criminal proceedings against … Olivier Thormann have been abandoned in respect of all allegations,” the statement said.
While at the federal office, Thormann worked with prosecutors worldwide, including the U.S. Department of Justice, and on the sprawling Brazilian bribery case known as Operation Car Wash.
Lauber’s office thanked Thormann “for the work he has done, in particular in successfully establishing the White-Collar Crime Division as a center of expertise in combating international corruption, money laundering and general white-collar crime.”
The Swiss investigation of FIFA started in November 2014 when the soccer body filed a criminal complaint into suspected money laundering in the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests.
The case grew to include all FIFA business , working with American prosecutors who unsealed indictments and guilty pleas in May 2015 after early-morning raids at a five-star hotel in Zurich.
In the U.S. case, more than 40 soccer and marketing officials have made guilty pleas or been indicted. Two were convicted last December after a trial lasting more than a month at Brooklyn federal court.
Also Friday in Switzerland, members of the Valais parliament voted 120-1 to seek further investigation of reported links between prosecutor Rinaldo Arnold and Infantino, who grew up in the region.
According to “Football Leaks,” Arnold helped arrange and attended a meeting between Lauber and Infantino in 2016, then accepted FIFA hospitality to attend meetings in Mexico and the World Cup in Russia. Infantino has said he broke no FIFA rules.
Source: AP, 16 November 2018, FoxSports
At the gate and beyond - Outlook for the sports market in North America through 2022
Welcome to the 2018 edition of Sports Outlook, which updates our perspective on the sports industry, including recent results and potential opportunities and challenges to future industry growth. This year’s edition refreshes our five-year revenue forecasts through 2022 within four key segments of the North American sports market: media rights, gate revenues, sponsorship, and merchandising.
Source: PricewaterhouseCoopers, 8 November 2018, PricewaterhouseCoopers
INTEGRITY IN SPORT EVENTS
Enhancing national sports integrity: INTERPOL and IOC collaboration
FRANKFURT, Germany – Developing a national coordinated approach in Austria, Germany and Switzerland against threats to the integrity of sport was the focus of a workshop organized by INTERPOL and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
A main objective of the workshop was to identify key stakeholders to help establish national platforms in the three participating countries to facilitate the national, regional and international cooperation required to preventing and investigating competition manipulation and other threats to the integrity of sport.
The two-day event (6 and 7 November) was hosted in close cooperation with the German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) and the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB). It was supported by the Council of Europe and Sportradar.
The workshop brought together more than 70 representatives from German law enforcement, government, betting entities and sports organizations, as well as high-level delegations from Austria and Switzerland.
Opening the workshop, Stefan Michel, Head of Economic Crime at the BKA said: "To effectively address corruption in sport and match-fixing, it is in the interest of law enforcement authorities to strengthen cooperation with other actors in this field, especially sports federations. Today's workshop makes a valuable contribution in this regard."
INTERPOL and the IOC are currently implementing a Global Capacity-Building and Training Programme to assist countries to address the new criminal challenges posed by competition manipulation and other threats to the integrity of sport.
Thomas Arnold, Chief Financial Officer at the DOSB said: “Protecting the integrity of sport is key to the future of sport. We are aware of the risks of manipulation of competitions and strongly support the efforts of INTERPOL and the IOC to assist National Olympic Committees and other stakeholders in setting up prevention and training programmes.”
Integrity in Sport workshops are organized in countries worldwide to foster collaboration between law enforcement, National Olympic Committees and national sports federations, public authorities and government ministries, the betting industry and other actors involved in preventing crimes threatening sport.
“Cooperation between law enforcement as well as sports organizations and other key actors is critical to building an intelligence picture. This allows national authorities to anticipate threats and put preventive measures in place as part of a comprehensive and unified approach against match-fixing,” said Sebastian Bley, Coordinator of INTERPOL’s Anti-Corruption unit.
Identifying and sharing best practices against competition manipulation and corruption in sport and more effectively protecting the future of sport nationally and internationally also topped the agenda at the workshop.
The event allowed INTERPOL to strengthen its links with key members of its Match-Fixing Task Force and create ties with potential new investigators for the sharing of information, intelligence and best practices.
INTERPOL and the IOC recently expanded their joint global capacity-building and training programme until 2021 to protect the integrity of sports.
Source: 9 November 2018, INTERPOL
Monaco owner Dmitry Rybolovlev detained in suspected corruption probe
Monaco's owner Dmitry Rybolovlev has been detained in the principality in an investigation into suspected corruption and other allegations. Lawyer Frank Michel said Rybolovlev was detained on Tuesday in Monaco. The newspaper Le Monde, which first reported the detention, said the tycoon's home was searched.
Michel is the Monaco lawyer for Swiss art dealer, Yves Bouvier, who has lodged a legal complaint for corruption and money laundering that centres on a lawyer for Rybolovlev. Lawyers for Rybolovlev, who earned his fortune through producing potassium fertilisers, would not say, when asked on Wednesday morning, whether their client remains in detention. They acknowledged on Tuesday that he was being questioned.
The Russian Embassy in Paris, which oversees Monaco, said it is aware of the detention and asked Monaco authorities for information but has not received a response. Rybolovlev saved Monaco from bankruptcy when he bought the club in 2011. He has since overseen a period of success, with the club returning to the French top-flight and eventually winning the 2016-17 title.
Monaco finished runners-up to Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1 last season but are currently 19th in the table after a terrible start this term. Thierry Henry was appointed head coach last month but he remains winless in five matches at the helm. Monaco suffered one of their worst results of the season so far as a 4-0 defeat at home to Club Brugge ended their hopes of advancing to the UEFA Champions League knockout stages.
Source: 8 November 2018, Sky Sports
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