Integrity in sport update: Belgium investigates alleged match-fixing on ATP Challenger Tour

Weekly media recap 31 August 2015 - 6 September 2015

In this week's media recap, we have articles of police investigations into various sports such as harness racing, tennis, hockey and basketball relating to match-fixing and illegal gambling. The Australian Victoria Police's  Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit conducted an investigation together with their colleagues which led to a father and son team being arrested and charged for a race fixing scam. Both could have faced up to 10 year jail sentence but were instead convicted and then sentenced to a lesser punishment.     

Two countries, Italy and Latvia are presently introducing new legislation specifically geared at fighting match-fixing and corruption in sports. The legislation being introduced imposes harsh jail sentences and is seen as an important measure to deter criminality in the sport.

 

CURRENT INVESTIGATION

Australia

An idiotic plot to make a few hundred bucks in a race fixing scam has left a successful father and son harness race training team in ruin. Mildura identities Shayne and Greg Cramp today pleaded guilty to one charge each of conduct that corrupted a betting outcome. The Melbourne Magistrates’ Court heard Shayne Cramp, 31, and his father Greg, 58, were among Australian harness racing’s top three training families when the pair were caught fixing a race. While detectives only proceeded with a charge over one fixed race, the court heard Shayne was caught on phone taps organising another successful fix. Both faced 10 years in jail, but were instead convicted and sentenced to community corrections orders. Shayne must perform 300 hours of community work for his disgraceful actions while Greg must carry out 200. The court heard Shayne was a successful trainer in the area at the time of his offending last year, winning the Victorian trainer’s championship in 2013/14. But the cocky trainer/driver flushed his career down the toilet on a ludicrous race fixing scheme which saw him collect less on takings in one race than he would have collected by winning it.

Source: Wayne Flower, "Mildura identities Shayne, Greg Cramp admit race fixing scam", 3 September 2015, Herald Sun, https://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/law-order/mildura-identities-shayne-greg-cramp-admit-race-fixing-scam/story-fni0fee2-1227510931012

Belgium

Prosecutors in Belgium have launched a wide-ranging investigation into alleged corruption in the lower levels of international professional tennis, local media reported on Saturday. Flemish newspaper De Tijd reported that the Belgian federal prosecutor's office has "very concrete evidence" relating to "hundreds of suspicious bets" made online and in betting shops, not only in Belgium but also in Switzerland, Germany and Britain.

According to the paper, the investigation centers on the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) Challenger Tour, which is one level below the main ATP World Tour, and the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Futures tournament, which is a further level down. The newspaper said matches in Spain, Tunisia, Israel and Mexico were among those being investigated, involving players from Ukraine, Italy, Georgia, Israel, the United States, Mexico and Bolivia. None of the players is in the world top 300, and most of them are lower than 800 in the world tennis rankings. The bets were made in 2014 and the first half of 2015, De Tijd added, and video surveillance footage has been gathered from betting shops in the Belgian cities of Antwerp, Mechelen, Ghent, Turnhout, Bruges, Oudenaarde, La Louviere and the capital Brussels. One example given is a bet of 7,000 euros (about 7,800 U.S. dollars) which paid out a prize of more than 100,000 euros. Multiple online bets were often made at the same time from the same IP address.

Source: "Belgium launches major investigation into world tennis match-fixing", 5 September 2015, Xinhua News Agency, https://www.globalpost.com/article/6643323/2015/09/05/belgium-launches-major-investigation-world-tennis-match-fixing#/article/6643323/2015/09/05/belgium-launches-major-investigation-world-tennis-match-fixing

Korea (Rep. of)

While Korea’s basketball community has been suffering from an alleged match-fixing scandal involving former Anyang KGC coach Jeon Chang-jin, who is still under investigation, it is now facing another headache: alleged illegal gambling by players. The Gyeonggi Provincial Police Agency, which has been investigating former and current sports players’ illegal gambling activities since June, said on Wednesday that Seoul SK Knights guard Kim Sun-hyung is on its investigation list for illegal sports betting. In Korea, the only legal form of sports betting is through state-managed Sports Toto lottery tickets. The police suspect the 27-year-old was involved while he was with ChungAng University. “There were statements from others that [Kim] was involved in illegal gambling,” Park Min-soon, who leads Gyeonggi Provincial Police Agency’s cyber investigation team, told Ilgan Sports, an affiliate of the Korea JoongAng Daily. “We couldn’t ignore those statements, that’s why we are investigating.” Park emphasized this doesn’t mean Kim has actually gambled illegally, and they just want to check the rumors surrounding him. “It’s too early to call Kim a suspect,” he said. “We are in the blank state in our investigation. He could be innocent.” Kim is currently with the Korea national team participating in the William Jones Cup in Taiwan.

Source: CHOI YONG-JAE, JOO KYUNG-DON, "Knights guard probed over alleged illegal betting", 3 September 2015, Korea Joongang Daily, https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/news/article/article.aspx?aid=3008700&cloc=etc%7Cjad%7Cgooglenews

United States

A professional hockey player and former Buffalo Sabre has been sentenced for charges stemming from an illegal gambling ring. Nathan Paetsch will serve eight months of home confinement and 400 hours of community service. He will be allowed to travel for hockey. He will also forfeit $265,000 in assets and be on probation for five years. Paetsch's attorney said his client pleaded guilty to transmission of wagering information, as well as structuring a bank transaction to avoid reporting requirements. Investigators said he used the Internet to gamble and withdrew less than $10,000 from the bank to avoid suspicion. In court Friday, the former Sabre apologized and accepted responsibility. Paetsch, 32, of Spencerport said he started gambling in his youth while living in Canada, where it is legal. He said that is partially to blame for why he found himself in the middle of a multi-million dollar sports gambling ring. He said his path to the gambling ring started with poker games and teammates who introduced him to key figures. "It was just friends having fun," he said. "And it obviously evolved and got too big a scale, and things got out of hand I guess." Last July, federal investigators raided homes and businesses across Monroe County. Paul Borrelli, along with brothers Mark and Joseph Ruff were said to be the ringleaders. Paetsch is said to have recruited other pro hockey players to gamble, and a check for more than $200,000 was linked to former Sabres captain and NHL star Thomas Vanek. Investigators identified other NHL and AHL players who were also gambling.

Source: "Former Sabre sentenced in gambling bust", 4 September 2015, ABC-WHAM TV, https://www.13wham.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/former-sabre-sentenced-gambling-bust-25973.shtml

 

LEGISLATION

Italy

Measures to strengthen the system of sanctions relating to the offenses in order to alter the outcome of sports competitions' launched today by the Council of Ministers. The measure approved by the executive, promoted by the ministries of Justice and Interior, is part of the draft legislation to tighten up measures that the government has decided to put in place to combat match-fixing.

"It is a general approach, the penalty is not a deterrent in situations where there is misappropriation of money. This also applies to sports fraud, where large sums are circulating," said Justice Minister Andrea Orlando on the sidelines of a press conference in Arenula, announcing shortly initiative with Interior Minister Angelino Alfano to deepen and illustrate the measures approved. The measure introduced by the government, aims to complete the actions to combat match fixing by tightening up the "financial consequences" for those who alters the races: the confiscation of goods is also provided in case of plea bargaining and provides for penalties for the company "for the benefit of which acted" those who committed crimes, as provided by the rules on criminal liability of legal persons. The full text of the penalties provided for in Dl Safety in stadiums, approved in October 2014, which increased the penalties for fraud in sports competitions: who buys or sells a game faces up to nine years in prison.

Source: "Match-fixing, the government is launching a DDL against sports fraud, penalties and confiscations of property", 4 September 2015, Calcioefinanza News, https://www.calcioefinanza.it/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Calcioscommesse.jpg

Latvia

The Justice Ministry proposes adding a new section to the Criminal Law, which would introduce the concept of match fixing and stipulate penalties for up to one year, community service, or fines for persons convicted of match fixing. Persons convicted of match fixing for personal material gain will be facing jail sentences of up to three years, community service, or fines. In case of large-scale match fixing or if an organized group is involved in match fixing, the maximum prison sentence will be up to five years. The ministry has also drawn up amendments to the Sports Law, which clearly state that manipulation of sports competition is prohibited. Justice Ministry Dzintars Rasnacs (All For Latvia-For Fatherland And Freedom/LNNK) hopes that the amendments will come into force on January 1, 2016. Likewise, the Latvian Olympic Committee's Secretary General Zorzs Tikmers hopes that the amendments will be endorsed already this year.

Source: "Latvia proposes up to five years in jail for persons convicted of match fixing", 3 September 2015, The Baltic Course, https://www.baltic-course.com/eng/legislation/?doc=110187

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