Criminal network gained millions in fixing professional tennis matches
Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, has issued a press releases to inform for an operation in relation with fraud in professional tennis competitions.
In accordance the press release, an organised crime group involved in manipulating professional tennis competitions was dismantled in an operation led by the Spanish Civil Guard and coordinated by the National High Court of Spain (Audiencia Nacional), supported by Europol. In total 83 suspects were arrested, 28 of them are professional players.
Armenian gang watching over the matches
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. 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.
On the action day, 11 house searches were carried out in Spain in which €167 000 in cash was seized, alongside a shotgun, over 50 electronic devices, credit cards, five luxury vehicles and documentation related to the case. Furthermore, 42 bank accounts and their balances have been frozen.
Europol has supported the investigation from the beginning by providing continued analytical support. On the action day, three Europol experts were deployed to Spain to provide on-the-spot assistance including real-time cross-checks, IT forensic support, and data analysis during the operation. International police cooperation across the European Union and beyond is a crucial factor in the fight against sports corruption.