An Indian man, who has been identified by police in Australia as the alleged kingpin of a major international tennis match-fixing syndicate, hails from Mohali near Chandigarh and figures on the watchlist of India’s cricket board, the BCCI’s top anti-corruption official told The Indian Express.
On Saturday, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Victoria Police have named Ravinder Dandiwal as the “central figure” in the fixing scam where operatives convinced low-ranked tennis players to throw matches while associates placed bets with bookies.
On Sunday, the BCCI’s Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) head Ajit Singh confirmed that Dandiwal is “a person of interest”. “He is originally from Mohali near Chandigarh, but moves around a lot in the Middle East and other places. His name has figured among those who organise cricket leagues. Once it figured in a private cricket league in Haryana, which the ACU scuttled. An advisory was sent to all BCCI-registered players not to participate,” he said.
Another ACU official said “photos of Dandiwal are shown ‘Kingpin’ of fixing racket in Australia is Indian on BCCI radar during every educational session, informing national and domestic players not to entertain him”.
While Dandiwal has not been charged, the SMH reported that Indian-origin Melbourne residents Rajesh Kumar and Harsimrat Singh appeared at the Melbourne Magistrates Court Wednesday for allegedly attempting to win up to AUS$320,000 on fixed games using illegal means.
Victoria Police have charged the two with allegedly “corrupting” at least two tennis tournaments in Brazil and Egypt in 2018.
The charges against Rajesh and Harsimrat are that they received information that “one or more of the players… had arranged with Ravinder Dandiwal to manipulate the result of the match” or players had been “recruited (by him) to engage in corrupt conduct”. The duo then allegedly placed or attempted to place bets on the outcome of sets or matches with major corporate bookies.
Dandiwal did not respond to calls and texts from The Indian Express seeking comment on the allegations.
On social media, his profiles list him as “Dandiwal a.k.a. RS Dandiwal”, “General Secretary of the Cricket Council of India”, “Chairman of the Cricket Premier League”, and “Managing Director” of Ultimate Sports Management. The logo of Cricket Council of India resembles that of the BCCI, with the shape of its outer edges and the organisation’s name among the few visible differences.
Singh, the BCCI’s ACU chief, said: “In Nepal, he had organised a league, which reportedly was corrupt but that was out of our purview. And I think he has been investigated by the ICC also.”
According to him, the Indian board had previously filed a police complaint against Dandiwal. “He had taken a cricket team to Australia, where a club was organising a tournament, and a few players from that team never returned… We found that the players who had vanished were charged hefty sums to be part of the team. Probably, it was an immigration racket and that’s why we lodged a complaint with police,” he said.
“There have been inquiries about him, but he is not a participant, so there’s very little action that we can take against him. He hasn’t figured in the inquiries we conducted in the T20 leagues (organised by state associations). But he is a person of interest, and we do try and keep him under watch,” said Singh.
“Australia has a law against (match-fixing) and the police have taken action. If there was a law here, maybe police could have taken action against him,” he said.
Dandiwal is known in the Chandigarh cricket circuit, and had been organising private limited-overs tournaments and leagues that were not recognised by the BCCI. He has also been involved with T20 leagues abroad.
“When the Afghanistan Premier League happened two years ago, Dandiwal was appointed as CEO of one of the franchises. We informed the ICC about Dandiwal’s presence there and they informed the Afghanistan Cricket Board,” Singh said.
(With Nihal Koshie & Devendra Pandey)
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