Published: Tuesday, March 7, 2000, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi: Delhi police on Friday came up with a sensational disclosure that South African cricket captain Hansie Cronje and four other players had fixed matches during last month's Pepsi one-day series against India in return for huge financial favours.

Delhi crime branch chief K K Paul told a media conference that the names of the South African players figure in the FIR filed in Chanakya Puri police station alongwith two Indian businessmen, one of whom, Rajesh Kalra, was arrested on Thursday.

The players allegedly involved, besides Cronje, are opener Herschelle Gibbs, left-arm spinner Nicky Boje, spinner Pieter Strydom and pace bowler Henry Williams.

The players and the businessmen have been charged with cheating, fraud and criminal conspiracy under Sections 420 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code for deceiving and playing fraud on the general public who paid money to see these matches.

The joint police commissioner (crime) said permission was sought to monitor the telephone and cell-phone after available information with the anti-extortion cell of the crime branch revealed that some Indian businessmen were in contact with certain South African players for fixing matches in the Pepsi Cup series.

''The South African cricket player participating in the conspiracy to fix the matches in consideration for huge money was identified as captain Hansie Cronje. One of the conspirators was identified as Sanjeev Chawla alias Sanjay, a resident of Jang Pura locality of the capital,'' Paul said.

He said the meeting between the South African captain and Sanjay had taken place in room no. 346 of Hotel Taj Palace in the capital on March 14, on the eve of the third tie of the five-match series at Faridabad.

The Delhi police is in possession of the tapes of the conversation between the conspirators and Cronje, the transcripts of which were released to the media on Friday. ''Preliminary interrogation of the arrested accused (Rajesh Kalra) revealed that he had procured a cell-phone and passed it on to Cronje.''

The police is in possession of the cell-phone. ''There is no element of doubt left,'' the crime branch chief said.

''From the conversation between Sanjay and Cronje, it emerges that the one-day international cricket matches were fixed for exchange of money. Those involved in such fixing have illegally amassed huge sums of money both in Indian and foreign currencies and made huge gains by wrongful means and by clearly deceiving the cricket fans and the general public,'' Paul said.

He said it has transpired that between these people a large amount of foreign exchange had also changed hands through hawala dealings for onward payment to the South African team members who were part of the criminal conspiracy. ''These foreign exchange violations are being brought to the notice of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) separately.''

Asked whether the police will seek extradition of Sanjay, who fled to London, he said: ''We will seek the help of Interpol.''

About intimating the South African cricket board or the high commission here, the senior police official said, ''All steps required under the law will be taken.''

Questioned about the involvement of any Indian player or whether the team members were also monitored, Paul answered in the negative. ''We generally do not monitor such things... but in this case, there was a specific tip-off.''

He, however, refused to give any detail about the date, place or the source of the tip-off.


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