Former UAE domestic cricketer banned for 14 years for corruption

Mehar Chhayakar case included ‘fictitious sponsorship deal’ to televise a series, as well as approaching Qadeer Ahmed and Ghulam Shabber to fix

Dubai, United Arab Emirates- January, 29, 2014: ICC Headquarters in Dubai Sports City in Dubai . ( Satish Kumar / The National )  For Sports
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A former participant in cricket in the UAE has been banned from the sport for 14 years after being found guilty of corruption.

Mehar Chhayakar was found guilty of seven breaches of the sport’s anti-corruption code by an independent tribunal.

The charges related to UAE’s one-day international series in Zimbabwe in April 2019, as well as the Global T20 league in Canada in the same year.

His offences related to the cases which had previously seen two UAE national team players, Qadeer Ahmed and Ghulam Shabber, banned for five and four years respectively.

The ICC's anti-corruption unit said Chhayakar had also been involved in organising the Ajman Allstars, a corrupt cricket tournament which was unsanctioned that took place at the Ajman Oval.

Alex Marshall, the general manager of the ICC’s integrity unit, said the length of the ban should serve as a warning.

“We first encountered Mehar Chhayakar through his involvement in organising a corrupt cricket tournament in Ajman, in 2018,” Marshall said.

“The charges for which he has now received a lengthy ban are further examples of his continuing efforts to corrupt and damage our sport.

“We will be relentless in pursuing and disrupting the people who try to corrupt cricket.

"With a ban of 14 years, the tribunal has sent a clear message to anyone intending to corrupt our game.”

Former UAE bowler Qadeer Ahmed. Pawan Singh / The National

Chhayakar’s offences related to “fixing or contriving to” influence improperly “the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect” of matches.

This included “directly or indirectly soliciting, inducing, enticing, instructing, persuading, encouraging or intentionally facilitating” a player to fix aspects of matches.

According to the ICC’s report into the case, that included offering Qadeer, the former UAE seam bowler, Dh60-70,000 to concede 70 runs in a match in the series against Zimbabwe.

Qadeer accepted an agreed sanction with the ICC of a five-year suspension in April 2021 for breaches of the anti-corruption code, including failing to report the approach from Chhayakar, who he knew as “Gary”.

Qadeer maintains he did not act on the approach, receive money, or fix any aspect of any match. In the three matches he played in the Zimbabwe series, he went for 16 runs, 42 runs, and 57 runs.

Chhayakar was well known in UAE domestic cricket, as a player and also via his cricket equipment business.

The ICC report states that the investigation started as a result of the law enforcement agencies in Zimbabwe in April 2019, “arresting four individuals [including Chhayakar] understood to be involved in attempts to corrupt the matches.”

“Another of the arrested quartet was [Mr X], a known corrupter and someone the ACU had previously linked to Mr Chhayakar,” the report states.

“It is believed that [Mr X] and his group paid US $30,000 to have the Zimbabwe v UAE series televised under a fictitious sponsorship deal with a company called Surya Pump.

“Enquiries with [a betting operator] indicated that Mr Chhayakar had called them and enquired about placing a bet on the Zimbabwe v UAE series.”

DUBAI , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES , JAN 11 – 2018 :- Ghulam Shabber of UAE playing a shot during the one day international cricket match between UAE vs Ireland held at ICC Academy in Dubai Sports City in Dubai. (Pawan Singh / The National) For Sports. Story by Paul Radley

Of the UAE players who featured in that Zimbabwe series, six are now serving long-term bans from the sport for corruption.

Shabber, the former wicketkeeper, left the UAE without explanation midway through the 2019 World Cup Qualifier in Abu Dhabi, subsequently saying he had retired from cricket.

According to the report on the Chhayakar case, this “excited the [anti-corruption unit’s] suspicions, since resignation occurred at about the same time as a number of UAE players were being summoned for interview” in relation to allegations of corruption.

In the course of the investigation, Shabber acknowledged he had been approached by Chhayakar to fix. He said he did not act on it, but accepted a four-year ban for failing to report the approach.

The report also states that Shabber received Dh7,500 via Chhayakar’s mother’s account four months prior to being interviewed as part of the investigation.

“He was not, however, clear in his description of how or why he received this money,” the report states.

“[Shabber] said he knew Mr Chhayakar’s mother and had asked her for a loan because he had debts in the region of Dh35,000.

“However, despite describing this as a loan, he said that he had not repaid the money. [Shabber] did not, however, directly link this money with a corrupt approach from Mr Chhayakar.

“The ACU has not identified any other evidence which could support a claim that this amount was connected to any corrupt conduct.”

In concluding the case, the tribunal stated: "The effect of the tribunal's imposition on Mr Chhayakar of a 14 year period of ineligibility is to deprive him as a matter of law from participation in cricket for that period, and in point of fact, for maybe longer."

Updated: October 12, 2022, 4:27 AM