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Cricket bookie Sanjeev Chawla, accused in 2000 match fixing scandal, extradited to India from UK

The scandal broke in April 2000, when Delhi Police Crime Branch intercepted a conversation between blacklisted bookie Sanjeev Chawla and Cronje, in which it was learnt that the South African captain had accepted money to lose matches.

Bookie Sanjeev Chawla, key accused in the 2000 match-fixing scandal involving the late South African captain Hansie Cronje has been extradited from London, UK. Delhi Police escorted the accused to Delhi on Thursday morning nearly 20 years after the case was filed in 2000. The flight carrying Sanjeev Chawla landed in Delhi an hour before its scheduled time.

His extradition is being considered the first high profile of its kind under the India-UK Extradition Treaty, signed in 1992.

Chawla, who had turned a major bookie for the D-Company, will go through the necessary medical examinations before being taken to Tihar Jail and held in custody in accordance with the Indian government’s assurances given to the UK courts.

The bookie, who was on bail, was taken back into custody by the Met Police in the UK before he was handed over to Indian authorities.

In March last year, the UK Home Secretary gave the go-ahead for Sanjeev Chawla’s extradition after the Westminster Magistrates’ Court overruled a previous verdict to rule in favour of such a move.

As per reports, Sanjeev Chawla had taken his appeal against being extradited to India right up to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which rejected his application for an interim measure last week.

Sanjeev Chawla is alleged to have played a central role in conspiring with Hansie Cronje, the late South African cricket team captain, to fix a South African tour to India in February-March 2000.

According to the documents filed by Chawla in the UK High Court, he is described as a Delhi-born businessman, who moved to the UK on a business visa in 1996, where he has been based while making trips back and forth to India.

In 2000, his Indian passport was revoked. He was granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK in 2003. In 2005, he got UK passport and has since been a British citizen.

In the details of the case that emerged, Chawla was introduced to the late South African captain Hansie Cronje in January-February 2000.

Chawla and another person lured Cronje by offering him a sufficient amount of money if he agreed to lose cricket matches. The tour took place in February-March 2000, with Chawla, Cronje and others conspiring to fix cricket matches in exchange for payment. Chawla reportedly played the central role also being the one in direct contact with Cronje, who was killed in a private plane crash in June 2002.

Both Chawla and Cronje were named in a 70-page charge sheet by the Crime Branch for “fixing matches played between India and South Africa from February 16, 2000, to March 20, 2000, in India”, according to reports.

The scandal broke in April 2000, when Delhi Police Crime Branch officer intercepted a conversation between blacklisted Sanjeev bookie Chawla and Cronje, in which it was learnt that the South African captain had accepted money to lose matches. Chawla has also been accused of offering money to two England players in August 1999. As soon as Delhi Police filed the FIR in the first week of March 2000, Chawla moved to the UK.

On June 14, 2016, Chawla was arrested in London following India’s request for his extradition, and UK officials then asked Delhi Police for details of security arrangements and facilities in the jail he will be kept in. This was done after Chawla raised several questions about security and facilities in Indian jails.

According to sources, Sanjeev Chawla operated one of the biggest betting syndicates in the late 1990s under the patronage of the underworld don Dawood Ibrahim. While Chawla fixed matches through top cricketers in South Africa, India, Pakistan and other countries, D-Company ensured that bids are settled smoothly through overseas hawala transactions.

The spot-fixing scandal was patronised by D-Company boss Dawood Ibrahim and his close aide Chhota Shakeel.

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