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BCCI's ACU 'amply warned' KSCA about KPL corruption

The Bijapur Bulls players pose after their win KPL

Ajit Singh, the BCCI's anti-corruption unit chief, has said his office had "amply" warned the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) that some of the KPL matches would be "compromised". This is now being investigated by the crime branch of Karnataka Police, which has arrested several people including former state players CM Gautam and Abrar Kazi.

He confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that the BCCI's ACU is also investigating "more than one participant" as part of its inquiry into the KPL corruption scandal. The BCCI ACU is conducting its own parallel investigation alongside the one carried out by the Karnataka Police with the two agencies sharing information with each other.

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"Yes, we had knowledge," Singh said on Thursday, when asked if the ACU was aware of any wrongdoing in the KPL. "We are also conducting our own inquiry. But our inquiries are limited to the participants whereas the policy inquiry covers everyone involved.

"They check for violation of (criminal) law, we do it as per the anti-corruption code of the BCCI. There could be more people. We are investigating against more than one participant. Participants covers everyone - players, team officials, owners."

The KPL completed its seventh edition this July-August, with only the 2018 edition having anti-corruption cover after the KSCA availed the services of Ravi Sawani, former general manager of ICC's ACU and subsequently head of the BCCI ACU.

Last year, the BCCI sent a directive saying its own ACU would be providing cover for all the leagues run by various state associations including the KPL. However, it's role was restricted to a "supervisory capacity".

According to Singh, two ACU officers were present at every match in the 2019 KPL, operating both at the ground as well as the team hotels. He also clarified that the ACU inquiry had begun right at the start of this season's KPL and not after the police became involved.

"Our inquiry started as we got intelligence and we verified it. It started almost at the beginning of the KPL, when our ACU officers got information that was available on certain players."

Singh also said revelations by the police inquiry was by no means a failure on the ACU's part. "Before we took over to provide cover for the KPL our officers spoke to the KSCA, told them that there is a strong possibility that these matches would be compromised on the basis what he had heard," he said. "Our zonal operations manager had a meeting with them and briefed them prior to the tournament.

"We told them strong anti-corruption measures need to be put in place and you (KSCA) have to be vigilant. They said there would zero tolerance to corruption. So we amply warned them that there is the possibility that these things were going to happen.

"Whatever the police does it helps us because the police has far more power, greater authority and greater resources to collect information. We can't get telephonic information, we can't summon a person, we can't get documents from a hotel - the police can do all that.

"Also, when the ACU took charge at KPL, there was unverified information that came to us. We verified some of it. We also took that to the police. We have interviewed some of the people who are the point of inquiry. We are sharing information with the police, which has got their own sources. Wherever we can supplement the evidence, we are doing that."

The ACU is likely to wrap up the probe by the end of November.

Singh also said that there was no reason to suspend the KPL until the investigation was over. "Look, if a person is sick, you don't kill him, you cure him," he said. "You just don't ban a league. The fact that action is being taken it will send a strong message. It will make a lot of difference to the integrity of the tournament."