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LAHORE: Appreciating the conduct of proceedings in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) spot-fixing case, the chairman of International Cricket Council’s Anti-corruption and Security Unit Ronnie Flanagan has said that it is a mere coincidence that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has the same intelligence and information which the game’s world governing body had passed on to it.

Talking to reporters after appearing before the PCB Anti-corruption Tribunal as a PCB’s witness at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) here on Thursday, Flanagan said: “It is a privilege for me as the ICC Anti-corruption Unit chairman to come here to assist the tribunal in a small way. I say to help in a small way because it is clearly the matter of the PCB and its internal Security and Vigilance Department.

“I have to say that these proceedings are being conducted in the most professional manner. Also, I was treated with great courtesy by both sides, enabling me to assist in a small way by pipe-lining the evidence I have got at my disposal,” he said.

Answering a question whether the ICC took any initiative in detecting the scam or it was purely a PCB effort, Flanagan said: “It is the PCB which has a leading role throughout the case. But we did receive intelligence and information, passed on to us by the British National Crime Agency.

“We have formal MoUs with the British National Crime Agency apart from having the same arrangements with Australian Federal Police, South African police, New Zealand police. And now we are trying to have such arrangements with Pakistan police as well,” maintained Flanagan who said that his unit had to collaborate with the PCB after passing on the intelligence which the Pakistan Board already had.

He said as the chairman of the ICC Anti-corruption Unit he was already involved with all domestic cricket boards to share the information. “I work very closely with domestic anti-corruption units across the world and would like to say regardless of the outcome in the case that an independent tribunal is vital.

Talking about the proceedings in the spot-fixing case, he said the local Anti-corruption Unit has demonstrated determination in reaching the bottom of the case. “I would like to thank everyone involved in the process and it has been a privilege for me to come to Lahore and helped in a small way.”

Asked if he would share any evidence about the conversation between Sharjeel Khan and Nasir Jamshed, Flanagan said he did not consider it appropriate to discuss any evidence at this stage since the proceedings of the case are still going on.

Answering yet another question, he said the ICC passed on the intelligence to the PCB before the start of the opening match at the PSL.

On the other hand, however, PCB’s lawyer Tafazzul Rizvi said that both the ICC and the PCB collaborated on the spot-fixing case while insisting that the ICC did not pass on any information to the PCB.

To a question that Sharjeel’s lawyer had said that one of the PCB’s witnesses Umar Amin had called bookie Yousuf a gentleman and the cricketer had a long association with the bookie, Tafazzul said that Umar had also said that he disassociated himself from Yousuf when the bookie (Yousuf) also made an offer to him (Umar).

PCB’s lawyer also rejected the stance of Sharjeel’s counsel that the PCB had fabricated the spot-fixing story. “Sharjeel’s lawyer has every right to disagree with us and the matter will be cleared when the decision comes. However, many things have been proved which are not being denied by them,” said Tafazzul.

Meanwhile, Sharjeel’s lawyer Shaighan Ijaz, while talking to reporters, said Flanagan’s appearance in the case had hardly augmented the stance adopted by the Board, adding that “more things have come to fore in the fabricated story.”

“Flanagan appeared as PCB witness and we cross-examined him in detail and have reached the conclusion that the PCB’s stance has not become any stronger, rather it has many loopholes.”

Also, Shaighan said that the chairman of the ICC Anti-corruption Unit admitted that the head of the PCB Anti-corruption Unit Col. Azam called him and he was here on Azam’s advice.

Stating that he did not believe the ICC had got any strong evidences in the case, Sharjeel’s lawyer said it was also clear that Col. Azam had forced Sharjeel to say exactly what he told him in the interview taken soon after the controversial opening match of the PSL.

“The interview lasting from 3am to 5am was held soon after the match and it is clear that Col Azam asked Sharjeel to say what he was already told before the interview,” he remarked.

He further claimed the entire spot-fixing story was fabricated by the PCB and all witnesses had “glaring contradictions in their statements”.

“The PCB has produced five witnesses and Flanagan was the last one,” said Sharjeel’s lawyer, adding that now he would produce three expert witnesses who are all cricketers including Dean Jones, Mohammad Yousuf and Sadiq Mohammad on May 24.

When asked why would the PCB fabricate a story to target his client Sharjeel, the lawyer alleged it is now clear that the PCB had a soft corner for some players while others were being meted out harsh treatment.

Shaighan also argued that if the information about a certain player was available with the high-ups, why was the player allowed to play the match. “Why did the PCB allow Sharjeel to play a match when it had received the information about match-fixing against him? If they (PCB) had the information, they should have informed him first,” he asserted.

Meanwhile, it may be mentioned here that Flanagan is the only witness out of a total five produced by the PCB who was allowed to talk to the media. Earlier, PCB’s four witnesses were not allowed to talk to the media.

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2017