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March 21, 2017

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FIA puts ‘spot-fixers’ on ECL

FIA puts ‘spot-fixers’ on ECL

Records statements of Khalid Latif, Muhammad Irfan; Nisar orders action against bookies, banning related websites

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: The suspended cricketers’ names have been put on the Exit Control List (ECL), with Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan recommending necessary action against bookies trying to lure players.

Names of all four players - Sharjeel Khan, Khalid Latif, Shahzaib Hasan and Mohammad Irfan - have been put on the ECL. These players would not be allowed to travel abroad till the completion of the pending inquiry.

“Besides putting the names on the ECL, the FIA should also initiate inquiry against bookies who tried to convince Pakistani players to fix part of the second edition of Pakistan Super League (PSL) matches,” the interior minister directed the FIA officials.

The decision to put cricketers name on the ECL was taken at a high-level meeting, chaired by Ch Nisar. Besides secretary interior, FIA, PTA officials and advocate general also attended the meeting.

Ch Nisar also directed the PTA officials to block all websites that throw bets on cricket and other games. “Websites offering betting on the games including cricket should be blocked,” he ordered.

The minister was briefed that two cricketers allegedly involved in spot-fixing – Muhammad Irfan and Khalid Latif -- have recorded their statements with the FIA. “The two appeared before the FIA inquiry on Monday and recorded their statement as what they know and what happened at the outset of the second edition of PSL,” FIA official said.

"We would not let them go Scot free this time. The matter would be probed and those found guilty of spot-fixing would be charged and an FIR would be registered against them. The match-fixing saga is directly linked with the prestige of the country and image of the game. All resources should be used to bring culprits to justice," he added.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) handed over cell-phone data of under investigation players to the FIA for forensic tests. Eight cell-phones belonging to eight cricketers ha been handed over to the FIA.

It is not yet been clear whether the FIA team would travel to the UK to record statement of fifth cricketer Nasir Jamshaid. Nasir is already facing inquiry in England and chances are that till the completion of London-based National Crime Agency (NCA) probe, he would not be allowed to travel to Pakistan for recording statement with FIA.

On March 16, the players were directed by the FIA to appear before the agency on March 20-21 to record their statements. The interior minister, in an earlier media talk, had said that the FIA would carry out an inquiry, though the PCB was reluctant to probe the case through the agency.

On Monday, the meeting was attended by the interior secretary, Advocate General and senior officers of the ministry, FIA, National Database and Registration Authority, and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).

Meanwhile, the FIA grilled two of the five accused players on Monday. The PCB has also constituted a tribunal to further investigate the case, which is believed to have summoned the cricketers for their statements on March 24 (Friday).

Sources said opener Khalid Latif and giant fast bowler Muhammad Irfan claimed innocence in their statements. Sources told The News that both Khalid and Irfan have admitted their meeting(s) with the bookies during the PSL-2 but claimed they didn’t take any money from them. “We aren’t guilty as we did not do anything like spot-fixing,” they held.

Sources said that Khalid in his statement claimed he was offered Rs 4 million on night of the opening ceremony but he refused the bookie’s proposal. Nevertheless, the accused players have held opener Nasir Jamshed as the main culprit behind this spot-fixing scandal, saying it was he (Nasir) who wanted them to make some money. “We were approached by the bookies through Nasir Jamshed. It was he who introduced the bookies to us,” the accused players told the investigators.

It was also learnt that though the PCB did not hand over the mobile phones remained in the use of these players to the FIA investigators. “We may seek Interpol’s help in bringing Jamshed back to the country to face the probe,” a senior FIA official said, adding the bookie named Muhammad Yousaf, currently residing in London, would also be summoned for questioning in the ongoing investigations.

On the other hand, it is learnt that the FIA has identified around two dozen betting websites operational in Pakistan and have written to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to immediately block all the illegal operative sites in the country.

The FIA investigators have also launched a crackdown on all local bookies involved in this dirty business of betting to clean this mess once and for all. An FIA official revealed that only in the PSL final held in Lahore, transactions of over Rs20 billion was recorded in betting alone with initial links pointing towards an international syndicate based in different countries including New Delhi, another FIA official claimed.

 

 

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