London, Oct 10: A British sports agent representing two Pakistani cricketers accused of a betting scam told an undercover reporter that Test matches could be thrown for £1 million, a court in London heard on Monday.
The claim emerged as the former investigations editor for Rupert Murdoch's now-defunct News of the World tabloid, Mazher Mahmood, gave evidence at the trial of ex-Pakistan cricket captain Salman Butt and bowler Mohammad Asif.
The jury heard an audio recording of the two cricketers' agent Mazhar Majeed talking to the reporter during a secretly recorded conversation in a car, and outlining the prices for different forms of fixing.
“There is massive, massive money in this,” Majeed was heard to say in the recording played to Southwark Crown Court.
Majeed said that for a “bracket” — where bets are made on incidents during a certain period of play — the cost could be between £50,000 and £80,000 ($78,000 and $125,000)
“For a result, Twenty20 is about £400,000 and Test matches, depending on the situation, is about £1 million.” He said that he was dealing with a contact in India, adding: “Indian bookmakers think of how many millions are bet on these games.” Mahmood gave evidence behind a screen after the judge made an order banning publication of descriptions of his appearance or sketches because the journalist has argued his security could be compromised.
Butt and Asif plead not guilty to charges of conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments, and conspiracy to cheat at gambling.
Prosecutors said at the opening of the trial last week that the pair had agreed to bowl no-balls as part of a spot-fixing scam.
Young Pakistan bowler Mohammad Aamer and Majeed have also been charged with the same offences but are not standing trial alongside Butt and Asif. The judge has told the jury there is “nothing sinister” in their absence.
The News of the World was closed down in July amid a public outcry over revelations that a private investigator working for the paper had hacked the voicemail of a missing teenage girl who was later found murdered. AFP