Businessman breaks silence over Cronje scandal

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The Independent Online

A businessman wanted for questioning by Indian police over the Hansie Cronje match-fixing scandal has declared his innocence.

Sanjeev Chawla, a London-based clothing importer, is alleged to have been the man whose incriminating telephone call to the South African captain was secretly taped.

It was that call that eventually led to Cronje admitting he took money from a bookmaker in return for giving match information in the biggest scandal to hit the proud old game of cricket.

Cronje was stripped of the captaincy and lost his place on the South African team while independent investigations began into match-fixing in South Africa, England and India.

Chawla, 32, disappeared after the allegations were first made in India but in the Daily Express he said:

"I have never met Hansie Cronje and certainly have never given him any money as it has been claimed," he was quoted as saying.

"I am innocent and have done absolutely nothing wrong and I am being chased and hassled for nothing.

"My whole life is being ruined but I am sure that I will be able to prove my innocence eventually," Chawla told the Express.

He declined to say whether he would return to India to answer any charges. Police in Delhi have arrested two men alleged to have been associates of Chawla.

With cricket still reeling from the scandal, the sport's world governing body, the International Cricket Council, has warned that anyone found guilty of match-fixing could be banned for life.

The ICC's Executive Board made its warning after a two-day emergency meeting at Lord's on Tuesday and Wednesday.

As well as setting up a Corruption Investigating Authority to monitor allegations of match-rigging, the ICC ordered the Pakistan federation to make public a judge's ruling on alleged match-fixing by its own players in the mid 1990s.

After a yearlong inquiry, judge Malik Mohammad Qayyum completed his investigation last year but the results were never made public.

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