Vincent charged with 14 match fixing offences

Last updated 09:45 23/05/2014
Lou Vincent
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CHARGED: Former Black Cap Lou Vincent has been charged with fixing two cricket matches in England.

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Former Black Cap Lou Vincent says today's match fixing charges show he never made a plea bargain, as others suggested.

In a statement this morning, Vincent indicated more charges were likely to be laid against him over match fixing.

Vincent was charged overnight by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) with 14 match-fixing offences relating to two matches he played for English county Sussex in August 2011 - a Twenty20 game against Lancashire and a 40-over clash with Kent.

In today's statement, Vincent confirmed the charges arose from the matters he had disclosed to the authorities and he made public last week. It was rumoured at the time he had a plea bargain deal.

Vincent would work through match fixing charges as required by the ECB, today's statement said.

"The fact of the charges, and more are likely, dispel any notions of a plea bargain having been done as unfortunately appears to be wrongly suggested by others."

The ECB has not yet laid charges for a 40-over game between Lancashire and Durham in 2008, which Vincent has also detailed to investigators as corrupt.

Former England one-day international player Mal Loye has stated Vincent, who then played for Lancashire, had offered him money to under perform. Loye rejected the approach, which Vincent has admitted.

Vincent would not comment further today as the matter was subject to the disciplinary process.

ENGLISH CHARGES

As well as Vincent, a Pakistani player, Naveed Arif, was charged overnight by the ECB under its anti-corruption code. He faced charges for six offences relating to the Kent match. He was alleged to be Vincent's accomplice.

If the players were found guilty, it would be the first proven case of the result of an English county game being fixed.

"This has been an extremely complex and lengthy investigation co-ordinated across many jurisdictions around the world," Chris Watts, head of ECB's anti-corruption unit, said in a statement.

"This matter is now the subject of formal legal proceedings and we will therefore make no further comment other than to re-iterate our determination to bring to account the very small minority who seek to corrupt cricket."

ECB chief executive David Collier added: "The ECB's Access unit has worked tirelessly in conjunction with the ICC's anti-corruption and security unit to bring about these charges, which once again demonstrates the ECB's zero tolerance approach to corruption in our great game."

A spokeswoman for New Zealand Cricket said that because the charges had been pending for some time they were not a surprise, but were a "disappointing development" in the ongoing series of match-fixing investigations.

Despite the jailing in England in the past two-and-a-half-years of three Pakistani internationals and a county player for spot-fixing, it was thought unlikely the pair would face criminal charges because such prosecutions were not believed a wise use of taxpayer money, English newspaper the Telegraph reported.

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The 35-year-old Vincent, who played 23 tests and more than 100 one-day internationals for New Zealand, has given evidence to the International Cricket Council about his involvement in match-fixing and was cooperating with the sport's ruling body.

The evidence related to 12 matches in five countries between 2008 and 2012.

The 32-year-old Arif was released by Sussex in 2012 and has recently played in Twenty20 games in Pakistan.

MATCH IN FOCUS

Arif was being charged as Vincent's accomplice in allegedly throwing the 40-over match between Kent and Sussex in 2011.

The match was televised live and attracted bets on regulated gambling websites totalling more than £12 million (NZ$23.6m), the Telegraph reported.

This was the highest total for any match of its kind, and did not include bets placed with illegal bookmakers, suspected to be many millions more.

There were suspicions of rigging at the time of the match and the ICC's anti-corruption and security unit investigated. No wrongdoing was found, but in 2012 British police and the ECB reopened the case and found enough evidence to charge Vincent and Arif.

It emerged last week that Vincent told investigators he was approached the day before the match in a hotel and told he would receive £40,000 (NZ$79,000) to throw the game, the Telegraph reported.

The match was an important one for Sussex as a win would secure the side a place in the competition semi finals.

In the match, Arif produced his second worst bowling of the season in a 40 over game. The bowler took the new ball, but was used for just six overs as he conceded 41 runs with two wides for an economy rate of 6.83.

For Sussex, Vincent's batting was brief, with the former Black Cap scoring one run off six balls before being run out.

Kent won the match with Sussex bowled out for 202, 14 runs short of their target.

Prior to the match, Vincent had been asked to approach a third Sussex player, but that person turned down the offer to fix and was furious in the dressing room after the match because he knew it had been rigged, the Telegraph reported.

CONFESSIONS AND LEAKS

Cricket match fixing came into focus last week when Vincent revealed he had cheated and was working with ICC anti-corruption and security unit investigators.

He had identified 12 games around the world which involved fixing, including Auckland Aces games during the 2012 Champions Trophy played in South Africa. Up to 12 players were being investigated by the ICC as a result of this information.

Vincent revealed his cheating began in 2008 at the now defunct Indian Cricket League (ICL) where he played for Chandigarh.

He used a numbed of signs to show fixes were on, including changing the colour of his bat handle, and said he was often instructed to score 10-15 runs from 20 deliveries and then get out.

Also playing in the ICL were former Black Caps Chris Cairns and Darryl Tuffey. Both have professed their innocence since the scandal broke last week.

Cairns said he has not fixed any matches, but has not denied he was ''Player X'' named in evidence provided to the ICC by Vincent and current Black Caps captain Brendon McCullum.

McCullum's evidence was leaked from the ICC this week. In it, he said ''Player X'' - a player who was once his ''hero'' - had asked him to fix matches on two occasions in 2008. He said he was offered up to US$180,000 (NZ$210,000) to fix. 

McCullum arrived home in New Zealand yesterday from India for the birth of his third child and held a press conference in which he said he was disappointed his evidence was leaked, but did not regret speaking up and cooperating with investigators.

LEAK 'UTTERLY IMPROPER'

Sir Ronnie Flanagan, head of the International Cricket Council's anti-corruption unit, said leaking of players' confidential testimony made to the unit was "utterly improper".

"It's a matter of great concern to us that players and officials and witnesses who come forward in good faith to give us matters in terms of confidentiality, when that confidentiality is breached and appears in newspapers," he told Radio NZ.

"We would want to find out exactly who's responsible for such leaks, and we would want to keep reassuring players and officials and witnesses that they should come forward," Flanagan said.

Evidence given to his unit had to be shared with boards and investigative bodies, which could be quite numerous across the world.

"We are identifying exactly to whom such information was passed. We will be speaking to all people and all bodies to whom such information was passed."

Reporter Ed Hawkins, from the Daily Mail which has published many of the stories based on leaked information, said the timing of the leaks meant the ECB had to act.

"It's put a rocket under the feet of anti-corruption investigators," he said.

But he did not think the leaks had forced the hand of investigators. It was possible they may have come across more information in the past week.

CONTENTION OVER 'WESTERN' PLAYERS

Meanwhile, details have emerged of a recorded Skype conversation between Vincent and Chris Cairns' former lawyer, Andrew Fitch-Holland, that could play a major part in Scotland Yard's investigation into Cairns.

According to the NZ Herald, the conversation took place before Cairns' successful libel suit against former Indian Premier League boss Lalit Modi's accusations of match fixing in the now defunct Indian Cricket League.

Fitch-Holland was a witness in the libel trial.

In March this year, Fitch-Holland was arrested by British police on suspicion of perverting the course of justice. He was released on bail but was interviewed again last month.

The conversation took place over Skype and was recorded by Vincent, Fitch-Holland's lawyer Tony Wyatt told the Herald.

"Mr Fitch-Holland obviously accepts it's him on the call. He accepts that everything on the call is accurate.

"What he told the police in the interview is effectively that any way [the call] seems incriminating is because he and Mr Vincent are talking at cross-purposes.

"There's no dispute to the accuracy of the recording, it's all about context."

According to the newspaper, Fitch-Holland appeared to agree a particular ICL match was fixed, but Wyatt contended that Fitch-Holland was saying to Vincent he knew the game was dodgy because of corruption by Indian and Pakistani players, not Cairns or any "Western" players.

- Stuff

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