Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

Australians 'biggest match-fixers'

Cricket agent Mazhar Majeed told an undercover reporter that match fixing was widespread in the cricketing world, a court has heard

A cricket agent accused of taking bribes to fix matches claimed that Australian players and Pakistan stars were also involved in betting scams, a court has heard.

Mazhar Majeed, 36, told an undercover journalist the Australians were "the biggest" when it came to rigging games, Southwark Crown Court was told.

Claiming match-fixing had been going on "for centuries", he named celebrated former Pakistan fast-bowlers Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis as alleged participants.

Mr Majeed also boasted that he knew Hollywood star Brad Pitt and tennis ace Roger Federer "very well" and could arrange for them to promote a proposed cricket tournament in the United Arab Emirates, the court heard.

The jury was played covert recordings of meetings between the London-based agent and former News of the World journalist Mazher Mahmood, who was posing as a rich Indian businessman seeking major international players for the tournament.

The tape was played during the trial of Pakistan's former Test captain, Salman Butt, and fast bowler Mohammad Asif, who both deny conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to accept corrupt payments between August 15 and 29 last year during the Lord's Test between England and Pakistan.

Mr Majeed met Mr Mahmood at a west London restaurant on August 18 last year - the first day of Pakistan's Oval Test against England - and after the meal discussed match-fixing in the undercover reporter's car, the court was told.

Naming famous former Pakistan national cricketers, the agent said in the recording: "It's been happening for centuries. It's been happening for years. Wasim, Waqar, Ijaz Ahmed, Moin Khan - they all did it."

Mr Majeed went on to allege that Australian players would fix "brackets", a set period of a match on which punters bet, for example, how many runs will be scored. "The Australians, they are the biggest. They have 10 brackets a game," he said in the tape played to the court.

The agent complained that Pakistan cricket players were paid "peanuts" but said there was "very big money" to be made from match-fixing."I've been doing this with the Pakistani team now for about two-and-a-half years, and we've made masses and masses of money," he told the reporter."You can make absolute millions."

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