Agent asked for $1.2M to 'lose' cricket match, court hears

Cricketer Salman Butt was captain of the Pakistan team that played England at the Oval in London.

Story highlights

  • Mazhar Majeed allegedly discussed deliberately losing a cricket match in exchange for $1.2 million
  • The agent is heard telling contact it is "not a problem" to fix match between Pakistan and England
  • Two Pakistani cricketers are charged with conspiracy to cheat, accept corrupt payments
  • Recordings part of secret investigation by former UK tabloid newspaper, the News of the World
A court in London has heard recordings of a phone conversation in which an agent acting for several members of the Pakistani cricket team allegedly discussed deliberately losing a cricket match in exchange for $1.2 million.
Mazhar Majeed, a 36-year-old businessman from London, England was recorded talking to an unknown contact in India, as part of a secret investigation by the former UK tabloid newspaper, the News of the World, in August 2010.
As the match between Pakistan and England at the Oval ground in London was coming to a conclusion, Majeed is heard telling the contact it is "not a problem" to fix the result, adding: "Boss, you know how many [players] I have got, you know that they do it."
Majeed is a central figure in a trial arising from the newspaper's investigation, which sees two Pakistani international cricketers, Salman Butt, 27, and Mohammed Asif, 28, charged with conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to accept corrupt payments.
Prosecutors accuse both men of taking part in a betting scam, allegedly arranged by Majeed, during a subsequent match between Pakistan and England, played a week later, at the Lord's cricket ground, also in London.
On Tuesday, the court was played a series of audio and video recordings of conversations and meetings between Majeed and a reporter from the newspaper, who was posing as a rich Indian businessman. One of the recordings showed the reporter handing over $140,000 in a London hotel room that had been fitted with secret cameras.
Majeed is heard to give the reporter precise details of events in the match, due to start the following day, that would be rigged by the Pakistani players. Specifically, he describes three no-balls -- illegal deliveries -- that the Pakistani bowlers would concede at particular points in the match.
The price of fixing a no-ball, Majeed was heard to say, is $10,000; he went on to tell the undercover reporter that his contact in India made four to five times that amount by betting on no-balls.
The jury was then shown extended clips from the Lord's match, during which the Pakistani bowlers did exactly as Majeed had promised. Before one of the no-balls, the cameras even showed Butt, who was captaining the Pakistani team, consult with the bowler, Mohammed Amir.
Earlier in the trial the jury was told the betting market in the Asian subcontinent is "breathtaking' in size." Conservative estimates, the prosecution said, puts the value of the market at between $40 to $50 billion dollars per year.
Alan Peacock, an anti-corruption official at the International Cricket Council, told the court that the betting market had developed over the years from a focus on fixing match results, to spot-fixing: contriving small events within the game, like no balls, or particular patterns of scoring.
Asif and Butt deny the charges and will have the opportunity later in the trial to take the stand themselves.
Majeed and Amir are not on trial; the jury has been told there is "nothing sinister" about this apparent inconsistency.
The case continues.