NZC won't name trio in corruption investigation

MATT RICHENS, STACEY KIRK AND FAIRFAX MEDIA
Last updated 15:06 05/12/2013
Fairfax NZ

Several former Black Caps are being investigated for alleged match-fixing, but New Zealand Cricket boss David White won't name them.

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New Zealand Cricket (NZC) know who the three former cricketers being investigated by the International Cricket Council (ICC) over alleged corruption are, but will not name them.

The ICC's anti-corruption unit has reportedly been in New Zealand for the past four months, and is believed to be looking at claims of match fixing that allegedly occurred in more than one country.

The ICC has released a statement confirming it is investigating match fixing around the world.

NZC boss David White gave a brief statement in Dunedin this morning and answered a handful of questions about the investigation which has been revealed this morning.

White wouldn't say a lot, but did confirm "a small number of New Zealand cricketers" were being investigated by the ICC and that NZC were aware who they were.

He said it was NZC's understanding there were three players being investigated.

No current New Zealand players were being investigated, neither were any games played in New Zealand or matches under New Zealand Cricket's jurisdiction, he said.

When pressed to name the three players, White said he couldn't.

"I simply can not comment on that, unfortunately. It's an ICC investigation and I can't comment further."

He repeated the statement to a number of questions including when he was asked if by not naming the three players he was smearing the name of all former cricketers.

White said New Zealand Cricket were helping the ICC with their investigation and had known about it for "a number of months".

The ICC investigation could be linked to an English newspaper sting earlier this year.

"The ICC confirms that it has indeed been working closely over the past few months with its colleagues in the domestic anti-corruption units of member boards to investigate these and related matters," the statement said.

"The ICC and all of its Members maintain a zero-tolerance attitude towards corruption in the sport, and the anti-corruption and security unit (ACSU) will continue to collaborate with relevant individuals in order to complete its investigation process.

"Naturally, as the investigation remains ongoing and nobody has been charged with any offence."

NEWSPAPER ALLEGATIONS

Last March, NZC confidently dismissed suggestions in English newspaper the Sunday Times that New Zealand players had agreed to meet with a bookmaker to fix matches.

The newspaper released details of an investigation it had conducted into fixing and quoted an Indian bookmaker as saying he had turned down the chance to work with New Zealand players because it was not worthwhile with more lucrative match-fixing opportunities on offer in the IPL.

He allegedly named two New Zealand players he said were prepared to work with them but the newspaper did not publish details.

"We have complete confidence that the claims made are baseless and have no credibility," White said in a statement at the time responding to inquiries about the article.

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"The sources are not credible and the accusations are unsubstantiated, making them irresponsible, damaging and untrue.

"The integrity and reputation of the game is paramount and NZC have absolute confidence that our players share these ideals. We have been in contact with the ICC anti-corruption unit and this is now a matter for them to follow up on."

A source suggested the ICC unit had looked further into the claims and that had prompted its visit to New Zealand.

The English paper claimed that their undercover reporters' meetings with alleged bookmakers revealed that match fixing was still rife in cricket despite the imprisonment earlier this year of four cricketers from Pakistan for spot-fixing.

"At the moment we've got connections with New Zealanders," The Times quoted the named bookmaker, Vicky Seth, as saying.

"I did some fixing with [names a player] and [names another player] in 2010. I met them direct in Delhi."

SERIOUS MATTER

Prime Minister John Key said he had only seen the media reports, but it they were proven to be correct: "It would be a very, very, very serious matter".

"New Zealanders expect sport to be played fairly, they expect New Zealand sportsmen and women to to perform in way ... that upholds the ethics of the sport, and not to be doing it to be making money in an underhand way."

Key said he'd be very surprised if the allegations affected our hosting rights of the 2015 Cricket World Cup.

"What seems to have been reported in the paper, and that's the only thing I'm working on, is that is seems to be very historical behaviour," Key said.

"New Zealand is a country that sees itself as a very above-board, honest place to both do business and play sport, so it would be very concerning if this was actually correct."

He said he wasn't aware the investigation was happening, but Sports Minister Murray McCully's office may have been told.

"You'll need to take it up with the Minister for Sport, he certainly hasn't raised it with me."

He said he'd be very surprised if there was match-fixing in other codes, "but I just can't rule that out".

Key said the new regulations were in response to the issues seen recently in Australia, and they were simply rules New Zealand agreed with.

CORRUPTION REPORT

The news comes within a week of the Government releasing a long-awaited report into corruption in New Zealand sport in which it asserted there was little for Kiwi sports fans to be concerned about.

Sports Minister Murray McCully revealed few details of the nine-month investigation which was prompted by the scandal in Australia around doping and betting in sport.

But McCully promised New Zealand would ramp up its fight against corruption in sport by implementing greater information-sharing among government and sporting bodies to stamp out potential match-fixing, doping and illegal activity.

He added that a national match-fixing policy would also be established in 2014.

"The report found no evidence of widespread drug use or organised crime in New Zealand sport," McCully said.

"But it would be naive to think New Zealand is insulated from these problems. This is why we are taking pre-emptive steps to safeguard our athletes and clean sporting reputation."

The report was instigated after the Australia Crime Commission earlier this year linked organised crime and banned substances to several Australian sporting codes including rugby league and Australian Rules football.

But Sport New Zealand (SNZ) concluded there was little need for the Government, sporting or law-enforcement agencies to conduct a similar investigation in New Zealand.

"The report did, however, acknowledge international issues of sports corruption and match-fixing," SNZ said in a summary of the report, which was not made public because it contained "sensitive information" provided by the Australian Crime Commission.

- Fairfax Media

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