How cricket match-fixing investigation started-Reporter Mazher Mahmood


My Say From the reporters own words this is how the sting happened, stay tuned for more on this massive scandal, will cricket ever be the same? I don’t think so..

05/09/2010

THE INSIDE STORY: Reporter Mazher Mahmood tells how he got the tip-off

IT was back in January that I first received the phone call that would start my investigation.

A former member of the Pakistan cricket management team told me the England v Pakistan series would be rigged to ensure huge betting wins for crooked syndicates.

Indian bookmakers were effectively controlling games, telling a number of Pakistani stars what to do on the pitch. Once the paymasters knew what would happen in a game, they could rig the odds in their favour – and bet fortunes with other bookmakers who were not in the know.

The crucial extra piece of information I received in January was the name Mazhar Majeed, a millionaire businessman who acted as an agent for Pakistani players. I was told he was the fixer for the summer Test series in England.

We made a number of background checks on Majeed, but it wasn’t until August 8 that the investigation moved into top gear and I arranged to meet him, posing as a multi-millionaire businessman interested in holding a cricket tournament in the Middle East.

FIRST MEETING WITH FIXER, Park Lane Hilton, London, August 16

After weeks of preparation, we finally come face to face with Mazhar Majeed – the Croydon-born businessman and Pakistan players agent – in the opening innings of an investigation that would rock the cricket world.

In the plush hotel’s Podium restaurant, our team explain they are representing a business group interested in launching a new cricket tournament – and we need Majeed’s help to bring in the stars.

The smooth fixer instantly pounces, boasting about his links to the Pakistan team – and hints at the power he holds over them, telling us: “I manage quite a lot of the players.

“I do all their affairs, all their contracts, all their sponsorship, all their marketing. Everything really.”

He asks if we will put up a “million dollars” in prize money for the tournament and adds: “All the players would be up for that. Then not only will they come to play, they actually come to win.”

One player he does not want involved is Shahid Afridi, the veteran Pakistan captain in charge of the side in the one-day series.

Afridi was not one of the players Majeed had in his pocket.

“I could have signed Afridi five years ago. All the other players I know, you know like brothers. When they’re in England I see them every day. I go to Pakistan to stay with them. We are going out for dinner tonight actually, Edgware Road.”

THE FIXER: Players' agent Majeed during a car meeting at the Bombay Brasserie

THE FIXER: Players’ agent Majeed during a car meeting at the Bombay Brasserie

“But he (Afridi) is the kind of player who you have to kiss his a**e every day if you want to manage him. And I am not that kind of person.”

Our team are about to find out exactly the kind of person he is.

Our lead reporter in the probe, Mazher Mahmood, talks in passing of his connection to a syndicate in Singapore. He tells Majeed his players will be well paid for the tournament and asks him to have “a word” with them, mentioning the possibility of some betting involvement.

Majeed hints for the first time that several of his players are already involved in match-fixing

Majeed: They’re cool, they’re cool.

Reporter: If there’s two or three that are on for the other side, the betting side, then good luck. They’ll be really happy.

Majeed: There’s more than two or three. Believe me. It’s already set up. That’s already there.

The hour-long meeting – recorded by our investigators – closes with an initially suspicious Majeed now at ease, and ready to bite. He arranges to hook up with our team again at a restaurant two days later…

SECOND MEETING, Bombay Brasserie, London, August 18

Over plates of curry at an 8pm dinner meeting, Majeed begins to open up about his deep involvement in match-fixing. First, to impress our team, he calls Pakistan captain Salman Butt – fresh from playing in the Oval Test that day – on his mobile to check possible dates for the proposed tournament.

He outlines how he believes our Twenty20 cricket tournament in the Middle East will work, while name- dropping Premier League footballers, Hollywood superstars and pop singers.

But it is not the tournament that interests him. At the end of the meal as they leave the restaurant, Majeed gets our main man on his own for a secret chat in the back of the reporter’s car.

The workings of match-fixing, and the fact that his Pakistan players are already involved in it, spills out.

Cricket fixer Mazhar Majeed explains how games are rigged for betting

Majeed: OK, let’s just speak openly.

Reporter: Yeah, OK. Part of the reason (for the tournament) is the guys behind it are interested in making money gambling… .

Majeed: I do feel that I can speak to you about this, so I am going to speak to you about it. OK. Now, erm, yes, there is very big money in it.

Reporter: I know there was but they clamped down on match-fixing, I heard… . Which is why we thought we’d do our own tournament.

Majeed: They’ve toned down match-fixing a lot, yeah. They’ve made it very, very difficult in many ways. But obviously, you know, these guys (his players), they would not deal with anybody. The only reason they will deal with me is because they know I’m professional… I’ve been doing it with them, the Pakistani team now, for about two and a half years.

Reporter: OK.

Majeed: And we’ve made masses and masses amounts of money. I deal with an Indian party, yeah. They pay me for the information. So say, for example, just on to yesterday’s game…

Reporter: Today’s game? (The Third Test at the Oval was being played at the time).

Majeed: We do brackets for… you know what brackets are?

Reporter: No, explain to me.

Majeed: OK. Say, for example, a bracket would open in India, and it would open for, erm, 30 runs after ten overs, or 33 runs after ten overs. So what the players (crooked batsmen) would do is, for the first three overs, they would score a maximum of 13 or more runs in the first three overs.

Reporter: OK.

Majeed: So then the market then expects it to go high because they are scoring at a higher rate. Then the next SEVEN overs they would score 14 (in total, a much lower run rate) or less. So then the people who know the information (betting syndicates) would go low and make a hell of a lot of a killing.

Reporter: Right.

Majeed: Then there’s a bowling bracket… say, for example, Mohammed Asif and Mohammed Amir are bowling, yeah? Ten overs. The market opens at ten overs and, let’s say 32 runs. OK. So at the sixth over when he (the bowler) does that dead ball (where a bowler starts his run-up and then aborts it) my people know the 8th, 9th and 10th over, they (the bowlers) are going to concede more than 18 runs…

Everyone’s thinking ‘No, they’re not’ because they’re conceding only two or three runs an over – so the last three overs they let it all go and they make a killing.

Our man then raises the possibility of betting on when no-balls will happen – and Majeed talks of result- fixing, demanding up to a MILLION POUNDS to fix the outcome of a Test.

Reporter: Do we get information like there will be two no balls in the third over?

Majeed: Of course. You will get everything like that. Everything, and you get the indication to show that if it’s on or not. They’ll change gloves at a certain point.

Reporter: How’s this relayed, how is it going to work?

Majeed: Easy. It all comes through me. I do it all. We don’t do results that often. We do results now and again. The last one we did was against Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup which was about two months ago. And you get a script as well.

Reporter: What does that mean, a script?

Majeed: In other words, this bowler is going to concede this many runs or more. This batsman’s going to do this.

Reporter: Right, so he’ll be out before 20?

Majeed: Exactly…

AGENT: Dining at the Bombay Brasserie

AGENT: Dining at the Bombay Brasserie

Reporter: How many players have you got (involved)?

Majeed: I’ve got six. (He later told us it was seven).

Reporter: In the Pakistan team currently?

Majeed: First-team players.

Majeed said there were betting brackets set up in India for the Oval Test Third Day – Friday, August 20 – then he outlined his prices ranging from Test and one-day internationals-fixing down to no-balls.

Majeed: We charge anything between 50 and 80,000 pounds per bracket. And for results, Twenty20 is about £400,000.

Reporter: Right.

Majeed: A Test Match, depending on the situation, can go up to a million pounds.

Reporter: Come on. How do you recover that, a million?

Majeed then talks of a fix he’d already worked in a Test match.

Majeed: Let me tell you the last Test we did. It was the Second Test against Australia in Sydney. Pakistan, on the last day… Australia had two more wickets left.

They had a lead of ten runs, yeah, and Pakistan had all their wickets remaining.

Reporter: Right.

Majeed: The odds for Pakistan to lose that match were I think 40-1. We let them get up to 150 in the morning, and then everyone lost their wickets.

Reporter: Right. OK, in that case you make good money.

Majeed: That one we made 1.3 million (dollars).

Reporter: OK, but that’s a rare event.

Majeed: No, no, no, with Tests, with Tests is where the biggest money is because those situations arise. That’s where the money is.

But we now are not going to do any results for the next two games (against England) because we want Salman Butt to be captain for long term.

Reporter: Right. But a few no-balls doesn’t make any difference, does it?

Majeed: Oh no-balls is easy. You can’t make that much money anyway. If you wanted no-balls you could probably get up to £10,000 each. But in terms of results, one-day matches results are about £450,000.

Depending on the game, on who we are playing. Sometimes it can be £300,000. The max it can be is 450, that’s the max. But you can speak to any bookie in India and they will tell you about this information and how much they’ll pay (to manipulate their odds because they know the outcome). You can make millions.

Reporter: Well, let’s do it.

Majeed: You can make absolutely millions, millions. But I know for example now, yeah, we’re doing two results coming up soon, within a month. Yeah.

Majeed advised our man against betting online because it was too regulated and explained the millions of pounds placed with Indian bookies is “unbelievable”. Then he told us how he would give us the information on two no-balls to be bowled at the Oval for the sum of £10,000.

Majeed: I will tell you on Friday what the no-ball is going to be. I’ll give you two if you want.

Reporter: We’ll pay the ten grand, no problem.

Majeed: And then once you paid that then I know that it’s real, yeah.

Reporter: OK, so on Thursday night then let’s meet.

The fixer then boasted that the players in his pocket would keep their mouths shut – because THEY were the ones who had the idea of fixing matches in the first place.

Majeed: They were the ones who actually approached me about this. This is the beauty of it.

I was friends with them for four, five years and then they said this happens. I said really? And I was so innocent to it. So really this happens? Bloody hell!”

Our man then gave Majeed a lift to the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington, where the players had been staying – players he would meet at the next rendezvous in The Fix.

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