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Richard Sydenham at Southwark Crown Court
October 10, 2011
The agent at the centre of the spot-fixing allegations tried to impress an undercover journalist, posing as an Indian businessman, with a series of boasts that included a meeting with PCB chairman Ijaz Butt about setting up a domestic Twenty20 tournament, a court in London has heard.
Agent Mazhar Majeed also told journalist Mazhar Mahmood that he knew actor Brad Pitt "very well", tennis legend Roger Federer and was good friends with former England cricketers Mike Gatting, Phil Tufnell, Geoffrey Boycott, ex-Pakistan skipper Imran Khan and former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi among others.
He also bragged how he managed ten Pakistan players including Salman Butt, Kamran and Umar Akmal and Shoaib Malik, and had access to other world stars like Chris Gayle, Brett Lee, Ricky Ponting, Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh. A potential meeting with their mutual contact - former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf - was also referred to.
The name-dropping and boasting from Majeed was heard in a recording while Mahmood was in the witness box at Southwark Crown Court in central London, on the fourth day of the trial of Pakistan cricketers Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif, who are alleged to have bowled pre-determined no-balls for cash. Both players deny the charges.
The jury also had a written transcript of the recording to follow. It was taken from the first meeting between the two men, when Mahmood had secret microphones on him that preceded an eventual global controversy after Mahmood exposed his trap. The journalist took his position in court behind a screen to hide his identity to the public and media.
Mahmood lured Majeed to the meeting posing as an Indian businessman from "Tata Equity" with the promise of setting up a Twenty20 tournament in the United Arab Emirates, which would be sponsored by Etihad Airlines.
The boasting raised smiles of disbelief in the court as Majeed was heard to also own seven ice cream parlours - which he has Pakistan players appear at for free, "the biggest property company in Surrey", football club Croydon, and told of how he lived at different times in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Malaysia and Turkey as he studied religion and gave lectures.
The court heard Majeed explain why he did not wish to manage former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi because "you have to kiss his arse every day". Incredibly he also revealed how he regrettably turned down the chance of involvement in the hit movie 'Slumdog Millionaire'.
Majeed, who said he worked very closely with the PCB, said of the meeting with Butt: "I had a meeting with Ijaz Butt about doing a domestic tournament. What we were going to do was look at putting a sponsor with each region and do a Twenty20 league because Pakistani people are not getting any cricket to watch. They will come in droves."
In-court sketches and visible descriptions of Mahmood were not allowed to be published. His evidence is key to the prosecution and his appearance in court is expected to run into a second day. In his sting operation, Mahmood said he was backed by a Far East betting cartel, and eventually lured Majeed into revealing a corrupt plot during Pakistan's 2010 tour of England.
Butt and Asif are facing charges of conspiracy to cheat, and conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments, following that Lord's Test in August last year when they allegedly conspired with Majeed, teenage fast bowler Mohammad Amir and other people unknown.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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