At least 10 people are found to have been involved in ‘live betting’ and ‘spot-fixing’ scandal during the recently concluded Nepal T20 League that has plunged Nepali cricket into its biggest corruption crisis.
At a press conference on Tuesday, the Nepal Police’s Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) confirmed the involvement of four Nepalis and six foreign nationals in the illegal activities to rig games during Nepal’s flagship T20 competition.
The six-team franchise league was played at the Tribhuvan University Cricket Ground from December 24 till January 11.
According to the CIB, players were approached through social media and by meeting them in person. Former national cricketer Mahboob Alam approached two Nepali players with a proposition to spot-fix league games.
Alam, who holds the record of taking 10 wickets in a match, has been charged with "approaching players to manipulate matches during the competition". "The players were offered anywhere between Rs600,000 and Rs1 million," CIB acting spokesperson Superintendent Sanjay Singh Thapa told the conference.
One of them, Mohammad Adil Alam, a member of the Nepali national team, fell into a tempting offer from a spot-fixer and bowled accordingly.
The Home Ministry instructed the CIB to launch an investigation in the wake of news reports about alleged betting, match-fixing and playing foreign players without a work permit in the six-team franchise cricket tournament that started on December 24.
According to the police, five proposals were made to spot-fix matches during the competition. Players reported three of them to the International Cricket Council’s Anti-Corruption Unit.
Twenty-year-old Adil, contracted to play for Janakpur Royals in the competition, apparently failed to report it to the unit. He bowled a wide and a no-ball in at least two matches.
Alam was arrested in Morang and Adil in Saptari. The police have obtained a court order to keep the duo in remand for further investigation.
The league courted controversy when the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) leadership sold the tournament’s commercial rights without a bidding process to Seven3Sports – a company founded to operate betting houses.
The CIB investigation has also revealed that six foreigners – four managers, a player and an outsider – were involved in illicit activities during the competition.
The CIB has identified Jatin Ahluwalia, the owner of Seven3Sports, as the mastermind of live betting and spot-fixing during the competition.
“A foreign player made only the scheduled runs in a session and was spot-fixed under the team manager's direction,” SP Thapa said.
He added that some managers, individuals in contact with the players, and even players were involved in match-fixing. The police did not reveal the identities of seven others involved in the spot-fixing.
In light of the controversy surrounding the league, Ahluwalia refused to return from India, claiming an imminent threat to his life in Nepal.
In addition, the CIB discovered that certain franchise clubs' wage-paying sources were suspicious.
The event’s main sponsor 1X Bet was facilitating as a ‘reliable source’ of news for forecasting match results during the competition, the police investigation has found.
1XBAT is surrogate advertising to promote 1XBet, an online betting company. The term 'surrogate advertising' refers to a marketing strategy replicating one product's brand identity to promote another product produced by the same company. Companies advertise their items by masquerading them as another brand.