LONDON: Manchester Crown Court sentenced Pakistani cricketer Nasir Jamshed and two of his accomplices to jail for conspiring to offer bribes to professional cricket players during at least two premier league matches.
Nasir Jamshaid, aged 33, and British nationals Yousaf Anwar, 36, and Mohammad Ijaz, 34, admitted their roles in the conspiracy following a covert investigation by the National Crime Agency (NCA).
At the court, Jamshaid, Anwar and Ijaz were sentenced to 17 months, 3 years and 4 months, and 2 years and 6 months respectively.
Jailing all three men at Manchester Crown Court on Friday, Judge Richard Mansell QC said the fixers, Anwar and Ijaz, both from Sheffield, had engaged in “sophisticated and organised criminal activity” while Jamshaid was “vulnerable to succumbing to the temptation of financial reward”.
Judge Mansell said: “Corruption of this kind has sadly been taking place in the game of cricket for a very long time. If anything it has become worse due to the proliferation in the last decade of hugely popular televised international T20 tournaments in all the major cricketing nations, combined with a huge increase in online gambling.
“What makes cricket, and specifically these T20 tournaments in Bangledesh, Pakistan and India, so vulnerable to corrupt practices, is the existence of a huge, largely unregulated online betting industry in the Indian sub-continent.”
Players not earning huge sums of money were prone to temptation while the corrupt practice also affected legitimate betting markets and honest punters, he said.
“However, by far the most insidious consequence of these offences is the undermining of public confidence in the integrity of the sporting contest, not simply in the individual match directly affected but in the game of cricket generally,” he added.
Using an undercover officer, NCA investigators identified that the group were plotting to fix elements of the 2016 Bangladesh Premier League T20 tournament which Jamshed was due to play in.
Anwar and Ijaz developed a system by which they would identify a professional player willing to partake in an agreed fix, and the player would signal at the start of the match to confirm the fix was on.
Typically, they would charge £30,000 per fix with half of that going to the player.
The following year, the three men made further plans to fix Pakistan Super League matches being played in Dubai. In February 2017 Anwar flew out to Dubai to meet with other professional players, including Islamabad United teammates Khalid Latif and Sharjeel Khan, who agreed to play their part in corrupting elements of a game, said the NCA.
Before flying out to join them Anwar was captured on CCTV purchasing 28 different coloured cricket bat handle grips from a wholesalers in St Albans where he gave Ijaz’s name and address for the receipt. These would subsequently be used by the players as the signal to show the fix was going ahead.
The PSL fixture between Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi was played in Dubai on 9 February 2017. Despite Latif originally agreeing to the fix, it was Khan who entered the crease almost five hours into the game displaying the pre-agreed signal.
Khan then carried out the fix, playing two dot balls in the first two balls of the second over, before getting out leg before wicket (LBW) for 0 in the third ball of the over.
On 13 February Jamshed was arrested by NCA officers at his home in Birmingham, and Anwar was arrested at Heathrow Airport after flying back from Dubai. Ijaz was detained at his home in Sheffield ten days later.
The Pakistan Cricket Board following subsequent tribunal hearings suspended Jamshaid, Latif, Khan, and a fourth player, Mohammed Irfan.
Ian McConnell, NCA Senior Investigating Officer, said: “These men abused their privileged access to professional, international cricket to corrupt games, eroding public confidence for their own financial gain.”
“I would like the thank the England and Wales Cricket Board, International Cricket Council, Gambling Commission and Pakistan Cricket Board for their ongoing support throughout this investigation.”
Yousaf Anwar pleaded guilty on 2 December 2019 to committing bribery, contrary to section 1(1) and (2) of the Bribery Act 2010; conspiracy to commit bribery, contrary to section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977. Mohammed Ijaz Pleaded guilty on 2 December 2019 to committing bribery, contrary to section 1(1) and (2) of the Bribery Act 2010; conspiracy to commit bribery, contrary to section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977.
Nasir Jamshaid pleaded guilty on 9 December 2019 to conspiracy to commit bribery, contrary to section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977.
Shortly after his sentence, Jasmhed’s wife lamented on her Twitter handle that: “Today is the most difficult day of my life as Nasir starts his custodial sentence & I figure out what to tell my 4 year old.”
“I’ve felt the need to write this in the hope that others learn from Nasirs mistakes & no one goes through the pain we have suffered in the last 3 years,” she said.