No probe into tainted CB40 game was shut down - ACSU chief
The Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) of the ICC has emphatically denied that the investigation into the 2011 CB40 match between Kent and Sussex in Hove was 'shut down' by the ruling body. This was the match which, on Thursday, led to the ECB laying charges of alleged fixing on New Zealand's Lou Vincent and Pakistan-born first-class cricketer Naved Arif.
Ronnie Flanagan, head of the ACSU, told ESPNcricinfo, "That was not at all the case. There was some correspondence between the ICC and Sussex and the ECB back then. As far as Sussex were concerned, they came to the conclusion at that early stage that this was a clean match. In fact it was through the ACSU's work, including work with Lou Vincent, we came to the conclusion that this match had to be re-examined and we immediately passed on the intelligence to the ECB."
It was, he said, "absolutely and utterly wrong to suggest that in any sense the ICC had given clearance for that match and then a subsequent investigation proved that to be erroneous - that is not the case". To use the term "shut down", Flanagan said, "was not even right."
"An initial report was examined and it wasn't sufficient evidence to continue at that stage," he said. The ICC, he said, "did not conduct an investigation at that time - we would have no remit on that individual county match, which has ECB jurisdiction. However, when we did come by intelligence towards the end of 2012, intelligence that there were wrongdoings, we immediately passed the intelligence we had to our ECB colleagues. And from that time we worked with the ECB and that joint working has led to the charges within the last 24 hours or so."
The operations of the ACSU have been under scrutiny following the news of a review of its functioning within the ICC, as well as the leaking of details of testimonies of current cricketers as part of an ongoing investigation into corruption featuring Vincent, among others.
There was, Flanagan said, a "worry" in the ACSU about whether players would lose confidence about reporting incidents and approaches by bookies. The release of details of the testimonies, he said, was a "matter of deep, deep regret". "We want players, officials and any sort of witnesses to realise we take this very seriously," he said. "We are investigating how these leaks could have taken place and we want to make sure this doesn't happen in the future."
The ACSU should not be judged on prosecutions alone, he said, because "we don't seek to be a police force". There had been an increase in intelligence reports, he confirmed - from 170 in 2011, to about 412 in 2013 and 142 within the first three months of 2014. The increase, he said, "is very healthy, it is something we welcome. But a report of something suspicious does not lead to a prosecution. So it is absolutely not right to judge the ACSU on simply on the number of the prosecutions… Ultimately investigation is but one small aspect of the work we engage in." The ACSU's focus was on prevention and education of players, he said. "All that we do to prevent corruption, to disrupt the activities of the corruptors - that is the sort of things that the ACSU should be judged on, not the number of prosecutions."
The ongoing review of the operational structure of the ACSU was "very much welcome" Flanagan said. "It is only natural that other people independent of the ACSU should lead a review. It is not enough for us to be engaging in self-scrutiny, but we will be feeding our thoughts and our considerations into that review process." It would he said take "some months" before the review is complete and it was unlikely that it could be done before the ICC's annual conference in June.
There was a probability that the review would lead to an increased number of anti-corruption personnel on the ground, he said. "What will probably result from that [the review], I don't want to pre-empt conclusions, but there is a good probability that an increased number of resources and personnel over all in the game of cricket could result from the review."
With the mushrooming of domestic T20 leagues, the ACSU has in many ways found itself in a tight spot as it has no jurisdiction over domestic games, for which anti-corruption measures have to be put in place by member boards. Flanangan explained: "The ACSU has jurisdiction only over international fixtures, or other fixtures such as premier leagues where they are contracted to do work on behalf of an individual league." So far the ACSU had operated as in information-gathering body in the Bangladesh Premier League, the Indian Premier League and will be working in the Caribbean Premier League over the next few weeks. So far only the BPL had asked for a lead to be investigated, leading to the banning of two cricketers and charges of corruption against a team owner.
When asked whether corruption in T20 leagues was affected by amorphous ownership patterns and whether detaching member boards from running these leagues was a solution, Flanagan said, "What is important is that there should be a diligence test for owners, I wouldn't go any further than that."
The ACSU, he said, did not want to be a 'police force' around international cricket. "We don't seek to be a police force. What we do seek is very close relationships with police forces, all across the world… So that when things actually become criminal matters, we can share any intelligence with formal investigative bodies in that particular country; it is very importance we keep those relationships." The ACSU he said had signed a formal memorandum of understanding with the Australian Federal Police in the run-up to the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
The full interview with Ronnie Flanagan will be published on Saturday.
Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo