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POSTED AT 07:42 AM 07-04-2019

Fixing the fixer

Match fixing laws ready to crack down on sports corruption

As the International Cricket Council (ICC) edges closer to completing their corruption investigations here, Sri Lanka is just a step away from bringing tough laws to make all sports-related corruption a criminal offence.

The proposed bill is a major breakthrough in terms of tackling sports-related corruption. It comes in the wake of a full-blown inquiry by the ICC into what they termed as “serious allegations of corruption” in the country.

Sri Lanka are hoping that, by introducing laws and making match-fixing and corruption in sports criminal offences, they can increase powers of investigation while prison sentences and hefty fines will deter potential criminals.

The bill was first drafted under Mahindananda Aluthgamage’s tenure as Sports Minister but did not see the light of day until authorities recently redrafted it with support from the Attorney General’s Department.

“This will be major break through in our fight against sports corruption,” said Panduka Keerthinanda–legal adviser to the ministry of sports. “The initial process was started in 2013 but for some reason, it got delayed. I am happy that we have now come up with the final draft. The current Minister of Sports is very keen to implement this”.

A final draft, a copy of which the Sunday Times has, is with the Ministry of Sports for Cabinet approval before going to Parliament. If implemented, Sri Lanka will be the first country in the South Asian region to pass match fixing laws, a major breakthrough in the fight against corruption.

Called the Bill on the Prevention of Corruption and Match Fixing in Sports, it has recommended severe punishments for those indulging in match-fixing and other sports-related corruption. These offences can be tried at the High Court of Sri Lanka.

The sanctions include a jail term of up to 10 years, a fine not exceeding Rs 100mn, or both fine and an imprisonment for the offence of match-fixing which includes spot fixing and pitch fixing, offence of corruption in sports, offence of unlawful betting and aiding, abetting and conspiring in a commission of any offence.

The new law will cover a wide range of corruption-related activities. They include engaging in betting, gambling, match-fixing, providing inside information for benefits, financial or otherwise, and any action that brings the sport into disrepute.

According to the Bill, concealing information becomes a criminal offence and carries a penalty of up to two years in jail or a fine of Rs. 200,000 or both. Failure to cooperate in relation to any corruption-related investigation–for which Sanath Jayasuriya was recently charged with by the ICC–has also been made a criminal offence and those found guilty will receive up to one year in jail or a fine not exceeding Rs. 100,000 or both.

A failure to maintain confidentiality by a service provider and making false allegations against anyone are also criminal offences under the new bill which carry a fine, a jail term or both.

The investigations will be carried out by a Sports Investigation Unit (SIU) to be set up by the Minister of Sports, consisting of senior police officers above the rank of Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) to investigate and take legal action. These criminals will be charged before the High Court of Sri Lanka. It has made provisions relating to extradition arrangements

After a preliminary inquiry conducted by the Director General of Sports upon receipt of any information, the SIU (appointed by the Minister of Sports in consultation with the Minister in charge of Law and Order) will investigate, before referring to law enforcement authorities for prosecution.

Match-fixing is a criminal offence in a number of other cricketing nations, including England and Australia. However, Sri Lanka has delayed bringing in laws to criminalize the offence until it reached boiling point with recent ICC investigations.

Offences    

Offence of Match Fixing(a) Any person connected to a sport
(i) Engages in betting, gambling or any other activity involving financial or any other advantage to himself or another person, or causes a financial disadvantage or loss to another person knowing that it would corrupt any sport or sporting event

(ii) acts in a manner that ensures the occurrence of any improper performance, act, omission or an outcome, which is the subject of an unlawful bet relating to a sport or any sporting event;

(iii) provides for financial or any other advantage, benefit or reward, any inside information relating to a sport, any sporting event or any person, to any person including a betting operator, other than in connection with bona fide media interviews and commitments;

(iv) provides or receives any gift, payment, reward or benefit, financial or otherwise, that might reasonably be expected to bring such person or any sport or sporting event into disrepute; or

(v) engages in any act or omission that is directly or indirectly related to any of the conduct specified in the preceding paragraphs and is prejudicial to the interests of any sport or sporting event; or
(b) Any individual player or a group of players-

(i) receives money or any other reward or benefit individually or collectively to underperform or to withdraw from such sport or sporting event for non-genuine reasons; or

(ii) bets on such sport or sporting event in which such player or group of players plays undermining the performance;

(c) any umpire, match adjudicator or match referee deliberately misapplies the rules of the sport or sporting event for money or any other reward or ‘benefit:

(d) any curator. venue staff, ground staff or support staff receives money or any other reward or benefit-

(i) to prepare any turf, ground or playing surface of any sport or sporting event in a way agreeable to any person including a betting operator; or

(ii) to disclose information of the preparation and condition of the turf, ground or playing surface; or

(e) any person including a retired player and any person connected to a sport are utilized by any other person to gain access to local or foreign players in order to influence their performance for money or any other reward or benefit;  commits the offence of match fixing in sports.

Offence of corruption in sports

Any person or any person connected to a sport who-

(a) influences improperly the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of any sport or sporting event;

(b) (i) seeks, accepts, agrees to accept or offers money or any other reward or benefit; or

(ii) solicits, entices, instructs, or persuades any person,  to influence improperly the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of any sport or sporting event, commits the offence of corruption in sports.

Offence of unlawful betting in sports

6. Any person who possesses information in connection with any sport or sporting event knowing such information to be inside information or in formation on corrupt conduct and

(a) bets on that sport or sporting event; or

(b) encourages another person to bet on that sport or sporting event in a particular way.or

(c) communicates such information to another person who the first person knows.or ought reasonably to know, would or would be likely to bet on that sport   or sporting event,  commits the offence of unlawful betting in sports.
Aiding, abetting conspiring

Any person who-  

(a) aids, abets, attempts or conspires in the commission of any offence specified in section 4, 5, or 6; or

(b) approaches, induces, influences, encourages. enables or facilitates any person connected to a sport to commit any offence specified in section 4, 5″ or 6..  commits an offence.

Punishment: Any person who comm its an offence specified in section 4, 5″ 6 or 7 shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding rupees one hundred million or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding ten years or to both such fine and imprisonment.

Other Offences

1. Failure to disclose information an offence

Punishment: A fine not exceeding Rs. 200,000 or a jail term of not exceeding two years or both

2. Failure to cooperate etc., in relation to an investigation to be an offence

Punishment: A fine not exceeding Rs. 100,000 or a jail term of not exceeding one year or both

3. Failure to maintain confidentiality by a service provider

Punishment: A fine not exceeding Rs. 300,000 or a jail term of not exceeding two years or both

4. Making false allegations

Punishment: A fine not exceeding Rs. 300,000 or a jail term of not exceeding three years or both

Champika Fernando

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