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Spain arrests 28 tennis players in “Armenian criminal gang” probe
2019-01-10 17:25:33

Law enforcement officials in Spain have arrested 28 professional tennis players in an investigation into match-fixing, EU police agency Europol said.

The arrests, which included one player who appeared at last year's US Open, follow an investigation into match-fixing by an organized Armenian criminal gang.

Europol said the players were among 83 people detained by Spain's Civil Guard.

"The suspects bribed professional players to guarantee predetermined results and used the identities of thousands of citizens to bet on the pre-arranged games," Europol said.

At least 97 ITF Futures and Challenger matches were fixed, it said.

Europol said 11 house searches had been carried out in Spain in which 167,000 euros in cash were seized, along with a shotgun, more than 50 electronic devices, credit cards, five luxury vehicles and documentation related to the case.

Forty-two bank accounts have also been frozen. None of the arrested people has been named.

The investigation was triggered in 2017 when the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) denounced irregular activities related to pre-arranged matches in the ITF Futures and Challenger tournaments. The suspects bribed professional players to guarantee predetermined results and used the identities of thousands of citizens to bet on the pre-arranged games.

Europol said a criminal group of Armenian individuals used a professional tennis player, who acted as the link between the gang and the rest of the criminal group. Once they bribed the players, the Armenian network members attended the matches to ensure that the tennis players complied with what was previously agreed, and gave orders to other members of the group to go ahead with the bets placed at national and international level.