The International Cricket Council said it will take “prompt and decisive action” against any Pakistan player found guilty of participating in a betting conspiracy.
The governing body’s anti-corruption unit is preparing a report into claims that some Pakistan players were bribed to fix incidents during the fourth Test against England in London. U.K. police are conducting a separate criminal investigation.
“Make no mistake, once the process is complete, if any players are found to be guilty, the ICC will ensure that the appropriate punishment is handed out,” ICC Chief Executive Officer Haroon Lorgat said in a statement. “We will not tolerate corruption in this great game.”
Sanctions for spot or match fixing range from a two-year suspension to a life ban under the ICC’s anti-corruption code. Allegations must first be referred to the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit.
Cricket authorities have spent the past decade since the formation of the ACSU trying to fend off the threat posed by corruption. The 1990s were blighted by revelations linking players with misdemeanors that included passing on information to bettors and even colluding in match fixing.
In 2000, the then South Africa captain Hansie Cronje confessed to taking bribes from bookmakers and offering money to two teammates to play badly. Former Pakistan captain Salim Malik was banned after a match-fixing inquiry at the 1999 World Cup in England. The ban was overturned in 2002 because of a lack of evidence.
Two days ago, three Pakistan players were questioned and had their cell phones taken by officers from London’s Metropolitan Police after the News of the World reported that they were involved in an alleged betting scam. A 35-year-old man was bailed to appear before police at a later date after having been arrested “on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud bookmakers.”
U.K. authorities also arrested three other London-area people in connection with the case.
“Three individuals were arrested on Sunday as part of an ongoing investigation into money laundering,” a statement from the U.K. Revenue and Customs service said. “This includes two 35 year olds (a male and a female) from the Croydon area and a 49 year old male from the Wembley area. These individuals were arrested, questioned and have been bailed pending further investigation.”
The ICC said investigators from the ACSU are in the U.K. conducting enquiries and assisting the police with their criminal investigation.
“The integrity of the game is of paramount importance,” Lorgat added. “Prompt and decisive action will be taken against those who seek to harm it.”
Investigators from Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency have also flown to London to examine the allegations, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported.
Pakistan next faces English county team Somerset on Sept. 2 before continuing its tour with two Twenty20 internationals and five one-day games against England.
The ICC, England and Wales Cricket Board and Pakistan Cricket Board want the games to go ahead, ICC President Sharad Pawar told reporters yesterday.
“Until and unless the British authorities complete the investigation, which we hope will be done in two to three days, and establish there is a prima facie case, it is difficult for the PCB to take appropriate action,” Pawar said. “The report by British police and ACSU will give us a proper picture.”
Dan Baynes in Sydney at +61-2-9777-8682 or firstname.lastname@example.org