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Pakistani cricketers guilty of anti-corruption and gambling conspiracy

Three Pakistani cricketers have become the first sportspersons to be convicted of conspiring to cheating under the UK's Gambling Act, the Gambling Commission has said.02 Nov 2011

Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif were also found guilty of conspiring to accept corrupt payments under UK anti-corruption laws for bowling 'no balls' during a Test Match at Lords cricket ground last year, Southwark Crown Court ruled.

"Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif deliberately and knowingly perverted the course of a cricket match for financial gain," Sally Walsh, senior lawyer in the Special Crime and Counter-Terrorism Division of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said in a statement.

"Through their actions, they brought shame on the cricketing world, jeopardising the faith and admiration of cricket fans the world over. This prosecution shows that match fixing is not just unsportsmanlike but is a serious criminal act," Walsh said.

The cricketers were found guilty of two offences under the Criminal Law Act. That Act states that individuals are guilty of conspiring to commit an offence if they carry out actions "in accordance with their intentions" that they had agreed with others that "will necessarily amount to or involve the commission of any offence or offences by one or more of the parties to the agreement, or would do so but for the existence of facts which render the commission of the offence or any of the offences impossible".

Southwark Crown Court said the cricketers "conspired together" with cricket agent Mazhar Majeed to "give advance information about the bowling of no balls" for which they were to be paid, which is an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906.

Under the Prevention of Corruption Act a person can be jailed for obtaining or accepting, or agreeing to obtain or accept, "any gift or consideration as an inducement or reward for doing or forbearing to do ... any act in relation to his [employer's] affairs or business, or for showing or forbearing to show favour or disfavour to any person in relation to his [employer's] affairs or business".

"Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif, employees of the Pakistan Cricket Board, between the 15th day of August 2010 and the 29th day of August 2010 conspired together with Mazhar Majeed and Mohammad Amir and other persons unknown corruptly to accept money as an inducement or reward for doing acts in relation to the affairs of their employer, the Pakistan Cricket Board, namely to give advance information about the bowling of no balls in the Lords Test Match by Asif and Amir and the bowling for the procuring of those no balls," a copy of the Court's indictment sheet of the case said.

The cricketers were also found guilty of conspiring "to do an act or acts to enable another or other persons to cheat at gambling", which is an offence under the Gambling Act.

The Gambling Commission said that the convictions were proof of "how collaborative work between the police, sports governing bodies and the Gambling Commission can help tackle the threat to sports betting integrity".

Under the Gambling Act the Gambling Commission may share information it gathers with accredited organisations if it is to be used for the purposes of a criminal investigation or in criminal proceedings. The England and Wales Cricket Board is one of the 16 sports governing bodies currently listed as an accredited organisation under the Act. The Commission has also proposed that the International Cricket Council (ICC), which is the international governing body for cricket, also be accredited for information sharing purposes in the future.

The ICC said it had a "zero-tolerance attitude towards corruption" and would "ensure that any suggestion of corrupt activity within our game is comprehensively investigated and, where appropriate, robustly prosecuted".

The ICC previously banned Butt, Asif and Amir from playing cricket for 10, seven and five years respectively under its own anti-corruption rules."

The actions of these top international players went against everything expected of someone in their position and they failed to take into account their fans of all ages and nationalities when deciding to abandon the values of sportsmanship so unconditionally," Sally Walsh of the CPS said.

"People who had paid good money to see a professional and exciting game of cricket on the famous ground at Lord's had no idea that what they were watching was not a true game but one where part of the game had been pre-determined for cash," she said.