Thursday, June 29, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

CBI grills Mukesh Gupta

NEW DELHI, June 28 (PTI, UNI) — Indian bookie Mukesh Gupta, named by disgraced South African cricket captain Hansie Cronje as having allegedly bribed him to throw a match, was tonight grilled by the CBI but denied having indulged in match-fixing, agency sources said.

During his three-and-a-half hour examination, Gupta denied that he had offered bribe to Cronje during the 1996 Kanpur Test, the sources said.

Gupta, who the CBI claimed had been missing since Cronje’s deposition before the Edwin King Commission in South Africa a fortnight ago, appeared before the CBI late this evening, they said.

He told the CBI that he shared a “good relationship” with former Indian captain Mohammed Azharuddin who Cronje had claimed had introduced him to Gupta during the 1996 Kanpur Test, they said. Gupta, according to the sources, denied having indulged in match-fixing.

The statement by Gupta assumes significance as Azharuddin, during his examination by the agency, had denied any links with the bookmaker.

Gupta was questioned by the special crime branch of the CBI which asked him about his alleged possession of “huge” wealth in a short span of time.

Gupta told the investigators that he was holidaying at a hill resort and was not aware of the look-out for him by the agency, the CBI sources said.

Gupta appeared before the investigating agency after it had launched a ‘nationwide’ hunt to trace him for questioning.

The CBI sources said the Bureau had issued notice to Gupta, also called “MK”, to appear before it immediately after Cronje made his startling disclosure that former skipper Mohammed Azhaurddin had introduced the Indian bookie to the disgraced South African player. Azharuddin has denied any links with Gupta.

Cronje in his testimony before the Commission said Gupta had been introduced to him in India in 1996 and the bookie had initially said he wanted an introduction to the De Beers jewellery company in South Africa. Only later did Gupta say he was into match fixing. At the first meeting, Gupta gave Cronje $ 30,000. On India’s tour of South Africa in 1996-97, Gupta allegedly gave $ 50,000 to Cronje for match information.

The South African had also admitted that he had relayed a $ 200,000 offer from Gupta to the team to lose the last one-day international of the 1996 tour.

Meanwhile, when contacted, Gupta’s counsel Vineet Malhotra said his client had not approached him for legal assistance.

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