ATP Tour

6th Armenian charged in Belgium over tennis match-fixing

Money match-fixing (File)
Money match-fixing (File)

Brussels - A sixth Armenian has been charged in Belgium with corruption, money laundering and other crimes as part of an international investigation into match-fixing in tennis, Belgian prosecutors said Thursday.

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The sixth man was arrested on a warrant issued on Wednesday, a week after the five others, the federal prosecutor's office said.

"He is charged with corruption, money laundering, forgery, membership of a criminal organisation and violations of the legislation about gambling," it said in a statement.

Unlike the five others, the Armenian national identified as 32-year-old Karen H. received an additional charge of gambling violations.

The first five accused were among 13 people who were detained in Belgium on June 5 during a series of simultaneous raids also carried out in the United States, Germany, France, Bulgaria, Slovakia and the Netherlands. Eight of the 13 detainees were released.

No details have emerged from the other raids which were part of an international probe into an Armenian-Belgian criminal network suspected of bribing players to throw games over the last four years.

Belgian prosecutors said the matches were on the low-level Futures and Challenger circuits, away from the gaze of television coverage and where meagre prize money leaves players susceptible to backhanders.

Prosecutors say the probe showed the criminal network worked to bribe professional tennis players to fix matches and fraudulently boost the winnings of bettors who knew.

Belgian authorities, who were first alerted to suspicious betting activity in 2015, said the criminal network "would not shrink from violence."

It also used its contacts to move large sums of money abroad anonymously, they added.

In April, the Independent Review of Integrity in Tennis, the London-based global corruption watchdog, warned that the lower levels of the sport were engulfed in betting-related corruption.

The report said the problems stemmed from too many players in the likes of the Futures and Challenger circuits not earning enough to make a living, coupled with the rise of online betting.

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