|Saturday, April 8, 2000,
Cronje in match-fixing racket
NEW DELHI, April 7 (UNI) The cricketing world was today overtaken by a storm after the Delhi Police charged South African cricket captain Hansie Cronje and three other players with fixing matches during last months Pepsi one-day series against India in return for huge financial gains.
Cronje along with opener Herschelle Gibbs, left-arm spinner Nicky Boje and medium pacer Pieter Strydom have been charged with cheating, fraud and criminal conspiracy for throwing matches by taking huge money from two Indian bookies, one of whom Rajesh Kalra was arrested by the crime branch of the Delhi Police last night.
The sensational disclosure was made by Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) K.K. Paul at a press conference during which the transcripts of the conversation between Cronje and one of the bookies, Sanjeev Chawla alias Sanjay, were also released. The transcripts also mentioned the name of medium pacer Henry Williams, but the police did not specify whether he was involved.
The names of Cronje, Gibbs, Boje and Strydom besides the two businessmen-bookies figure in the FIR registered at the Chanakya Puri police station following Kalras arrest. Kalra was produced in the court today.
By engaging in such activities, these people have put the general public to a wrongful loss and have illegally amassed large sums of money and made wrongful gain to themselves thereby committing the offence of criminal conspiracy and cheating, Dr Paul said.
The United Cricket Board of South Africa (UCB) lost no time to deny the allegations of match fixing against its key players, including Cronje, one of the most respected cricketers.
A statement said: The United Cricket Board of South Africa is certain that no South African cricket player has ever been involved in match fixing.
The UCB Managing Director Ali Bacher has spoken to South African captain Hansie Cronje who is adamant that the allegations are completely untrue.
Dr Paul said the police laid its hands on the international racket of betting and match-fixing after the anti-extortion cell of the crime branch received information that some Indian bookies were allegedly in contact with certain South African players for fixing matches of the Pepsi series which was eventually won by India 3-2.
However, he refused to give any details about the date, place or the source of the tip-off.
Preliminary interrogation of the arrested accused Rajesh revealed that he had procured a cell phone and passed it on to Cronje. The police is in possession of the cell phone. There is no element of doubt left, Dr Paul said.
The South African cricket player participating in the conspiracy to fix the matches in consideration for huge money was identified as captain Hansie Cronje. One of the conspirators was identified as Sanjeev Chawla alias Sanjay, a resident of Jang Pura locality of the capital, he said.
The meeting between the South African Captain and Sanjay had taken place in room No. 346 of hotel Taj Palace in the capital on March 14, on the eve of the third tie of the five-match series at Faridabad, he revealed.
From the conversation between Sanjay and Cronje, it emerges that the one-day international cricket matches were fixed for exchange of money. Those involved in such fixing have illegally amassed huge sums of money both in Indian and foreign currencies and made huge gains by wrongful means and by clearly deceiving the cricket fans and the general public, Dr Paul said.
He said it has transpired that between these people large amount of foreign exchange had also changed hands through hawala dealings for onward payment to the South African team members who were part of the criminal conspiracy. These foreign exchange violations are being brought to the notice of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) separately.
Asked whether the police will seek extradition of Sanjay, who fled to London, he said We will seek the help of Interpol.
About intimating the South African cricket board or the High Commission here, the senior police official said: All steps required under the law will be taken.
Questioned about the involvement of any Indian player or whether the team members were also monitored, Dr Paul answered in the negative. We generally do not monitor such things... But in this case, there was a specific tip-off.
He, however, refused to give any detail about the date, place or the source of the tip-off.
Dr Paul said during the conversation with the Indian bookie, Cronje identified himself on tape. It is quite explicit, he said reading out the transcripts of taped conversation between Sanjay and the South African skipper. The conversation bears ample proof that money was paid.
During the course of the talks with the bookie, Cronje also refers to medium pacer Henry Williams whose name was, however, not mentioned by the police today.
The transcript starts with Sanjay contacting Cronje from the lobby of the Taj Hotel and seeking an appointment with him. Cronje subsequently invited him to his room.
Financially the guys want 25 each, the transcript reveals Cronje as saying. When asked about his share, the captain demanded 140 altogether. The police, however, could not specify the amount and the currency of the deal.
Further investigation in the matter is on, the official said.
The taped conversation also deals with the strategy to be applied by the players concerned to manipulate the outcome of the matches.
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