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Tennis match-fixing ring under Spanish police investigation

11 January, 2019, 10:10 | Author: Heidi Alvarez
  • Spanish authorities arrest 28 tennis players in match-fixing probe

Their identity has not been revealed. One of those played in last year's U.S. Open.

Eleven house searches were carried out in Spain, with €167,000 (£151,000/$193,000) in cash seized, alongside a shotgun, five luxury vehicles, credit cards and relevant documents.

Europol said the players were among 83 people detained by Spain's civil guard, known as Guardia Civil, among them a tennis player who participated in the U.S. Open past year.

The Armenian gang bribed players into fixing matches, according to authorities.

The investigation, codenamed Operation Bitures, started in 2017 when the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) an worldwide anti-corruption body, made a complaint about a Spanish tennis player, who has not been named.

Police accused Spaniard player Marc Fornell-Mestres, whose highest career singles ranking was 236th in 2007, of acting as the link between players and the Armenian ring that bribed them for betting purposes.

Spanish authorities arrest 28 tennis players in match-fixing probe

No other names were immediately disclosed by authorities.

Forty-two bank accounts have also been frozen.

Police are also investigating what they suspect are strong links between some of the suspects arrested in Spain and an Armenian-Belgian crime gang broken up by Belgium police previous year, also suspected of fixing tennis matches.

The investigation was triggered in 2017 when the Tennis Integrity Unit reported irregular activity during the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Futures and Challenger tournaments, the lower-tier professional tennis competitions.

Guardia Civil then unraveled a web of criminals who allegedly bribed professional players to guarantee predetermined results and stole the identities of hundreds of citizens to bet on the pre-arranged games. They also gave orders for "other members of the group" to place bets at the "national and global level".

Spanish police have made widespread arrests following an investigation into tennis match-fixing by an organised Armenian criminal gang.

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