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Match Fixer's Cash Trail Leads To Salman Butt

Cash used in the cricket betting scandal is understood to have been found in the belongings of the Pakistani team captain, the Daily Mail reported on Friday. Scotland Yard officers are to question Salman Butt
PTI September 03, 2010 14:26 IST
PTI
Cash used in the cricket betting scandal is understood to have been found in the belongings of the Pakistani team captain, the Daily Mail reported on Friday.

Scotland Yard officers are to question Salman Butt over how marked notes were discovered in police searches of his hotel room and his locker at Lord's cricket ground.

The revelation came on the day Pakistan's most senior diplomat in Britain said the three cricketers engulfed in the betting scandal were set up.

However, the three men have now been charged under the ICC's anti-corruption code and suspended from all matches by the International body.

ICC officials went over the heads of the Pakistan Cricket Board, which had merely withdrawn the players from the tour of England.

‘We will not tolerate corruption in cricket – simple as that. We must be decisive in such matters,' said a spokesman.

Wajid Hasan, the Pakistani high commissioner in London, said he believed the trio played no part in an alleged plot to bowl no-balls to order during their side's fourth Test defeat at Lord's last week.

But the Daily Mail  reports  that a substantial and suspicious amount of cash was found by detectives.

The money is believed to have been part of £150,000 handed over in cash by an undercover News of the World reporter to Mazhar Majeed, the alleged mastermind of the Pakistan betting racket.

Majeed, 35 and British born, was photographed in the newspaper sitting in front of piles of money, and it was unclear last night how much is alleged to have been found in facilities used by Butt.

The recovered money is undergoing forensic tests to confirm police suspicions that it came from the News of the World sting.

A source said: ‘Early indications suggest the money found in possession of Salman Butt originated from the sting. There are good reasons to believe this was the case.'
It is not known how police can identify notes from the original £150,000 handed to Majeed by the News of the World.

One theory is that it may have been sprayed with a purple dye, mixed with a unique DNA marker. Alternatively, the serial numbers may have been logged.

Breaking their silence over the allegations yesterday, all three men protested their innocence but bowed to pressure to play no part in the forthcoming one-day international matches series against England.

The trio were interviewed in London yesterday by Mr Hasan and Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ijaz Butt, who is not related to the captain. They insisted they were not guilty of bowling no-balls at predetermined times during the match.

‘The three players have said that they are extremely disturbed by what has happened in the past week, especially in regard of their alleged involvement in the crime,' Mr Hasan said.

He said that because of the ‘mental torture' they had suffered they would not be in the right frame of mind to continue the tour.

He also questioned the value of the News of the World's tapes showing Majeed apparently correctly identifying the exact time when no-balls would be bowled.

‘We are not seeing on the video what the date is or what the time is,' added Mr Hasan, pictured below. ‘Do you have answers to these questions? The video wasn't timed or dated. It could have been filmed before or after the match.'

Asked if he believes the three players might have been set up, he responded: ‘Yes, I would say that.'

Pakistani authorities have also accused police of being part of a preconceived conspiracy against their team.

In a defiant letter to a senior aide of President Asif Ali Zardari, PCB chairman Mr Butt gives an insight into the background to the scandal and the anger he feels.

He said English cricket authorities had been ‘utterly shocked and surprised' by the raids on the hotel rooms of the three players.

Mr Butt said police had warned that these allegations were just the tip of the iceberg, and that in addition to the News of the World investigation, unlicensed overseas bookmakers of Asian descent had also made a complaint.

Investigators are examining a blizzard of telephone calls to and from Majeed at the time of Pakistan's games around the world over a two-year period. They are looking at events in more than 80 internationals played by the team.

Customs officers suspect more than £20million has been laundered through non-league Croydon Athletic Football Club owned by Majeed.

Majeed, his wife Sheliza Manji, 35, and an unidentified man from Wembley have been arrested over the laundering allegations and released.

Last night it emerged that Scotland Yard detectives are already liaising closely with the Crown Prosecution Service over the corruption investigation.

The three players at the centre of the bung allegations are expected to be interviewed under caution in the near future about the allegations.

But already senior legal sources believe it is unlikely that any of the trio will face criminal charges, and will instead be dealt with through cricket's disciplinary procedures.

Scotland Yard made no comment on the suspicious cash claims.