Subcontinent gambles $50 bn on cricket, London court told

London: Jurors in a London Crown Court were told that cricket betting syndicates were controlled and orchestrated by "shadowy figures" based in Dubai, Mumbai, London and Karachi and some $50 billion was gambled away in the Asian subcontinent alone on matches played around the world and beamed live on satellite television.

Aftab Jafferjee, a Queen`s Counsel appearing on behalf of the Crown Prosecution Service, said that even if that figure was reduced by a tenth it "not unsurprisingly makes `spot` fixing and match fixing irresistible to some", according to reports.

The agent of accused Pakistani cricketers Mazhar Majeed had told an undercover reporter that fixing the outcome of a Test match had been achieved in the past and could be arranged for a fee of 1 million pounds.

He also said a Twenty20 result would cost 400,000 pounds and a bracket of 10 overs, when scoring patterns are used in spread betting, cost 50,000-80,000 pounds to arrange.

On the first full day of the trial of former Pakistan captain Salman Butt and fast bowler Mohammad Asif in London`s Southwark Crown Court, Jafferjee said the betting industry developed in the 1990s and bets are taken out seconds before the event with "breathtaking" amounts involved in illegal betting.

"This case reveals a depressing tale of rampant corruption at the heart of international cricket, with key players being members of the Pakistan cricket team," Jafferjee said.

Butt and Asif deny conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to accept corrupt payments between Aug 15-29 last year, with the case centering on the fourth Test at Lord`s.

The third accused, teenage fast bowler Mohammad Amir, and Majeed, who is charged with being the middleman in the alleged plot, are not required to appear in court.

Transcripts of conversations between Majeed and a reporter from the now defunct News of the World revealed the agent as saying: "I`ve been doing it with them for about two-and-a-half years and we`ve made masses and masses of money."

Majeed also told the reporter fixing when a no-ball would be bowled is "easy" and costs "10,000 pounds each".

The three players are accused of receiving money to ensure no-balls were deliberately bowled at a specified time in the match.

"It is the prosecution`s case that ... each of them was well at it, the two bowlers (Asif and Amir) being orchestrated by their captain (Butt) and the captain`s agent, Majeed, to bowl three no-balls at a prearranged point in the game," Jafferjee said.

Jafferjee said the fixing was orchestrated "at the expense of the integrity of the game".

He said the men had "contaminated" the games and "their activity represents a betrayal by them of their own team, their own Board of Cricket and most damaging of all a betrayal of the sport of cricket itself -- and all for greed".


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