Fighting to Keep World Sports a Fair Game

April 24, 2012

The New York Times on April 24, 2012 released the following:


LYON — In ancient Greek mythology, Hercules had to slay the multiheaded serpent-like Hydra, guardian of the underworld, although each time a head was cut off, two others would grow in its place.

In modern sports, it can seem that the authorities face a similar and equally herculean task in the global fight against illegal sports betting and match-fixing.

Michel Platini, the head of UEFA, the governing body of European soccer, which runs the richest sports club tournament in the world, the Champions League, has called illegal betting the greatest danger to the game, “the one that can kill football.”

Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, goes even further.

“Sport is in danger,” Rogge said. “It’s not about the Olympics, it’s not about the Games, it’s about sport in general. Illegal betting in sport generates a turnover of around $140 billion a year, and it is inevitable that the Games will be sullied.”

According to the World Lottery Association, an organization of state-authorized lotteries, €90 billion, nearly $120 billion, is spent each year in legitimate wagers on soccer games. The same group estimates that another €90 billion is spent in illegitimate soccer betting. But Interpol, the international police organization, estimates have put the figure much higher.

While the problem of match-fixing in soccer has existed for decades, it appears to have intensified in recent years, aided by the Internet. Concerned by this apparent surge, international soccer authorities and law enforcement officials joined forces last year in their struggle to combat rampant match-fixing by what they describe as sprawling networks of organized crime based in Singapore, Malaysia and elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, pledged $20 million in May 2011 to create a unit within Interpol in Singapore dedicated to rooting out match-fixing in Asia.

Noboru Nakatani, until recently the special adviser to the head of Japan’s National Police Agency, is moving to Singapore this month to oversee the research and development facility.

The unit aims to develop a program for officials, players and administrators that warns against match-fixing and alerts them to how it dishonors the game and might ruin their careers.

Ronald K. Noble, secretary general of Interpol, has said that gambling on sports “might seem as harmless as placing a small bet on your favorite team.”

But these operations, he notes, are often controlled by “organized criminals who frequently engage in loan sharking and use intimidation and violence to collect debts.” He added, “If that doesn’t work, they force their desperate, indebted victims into drug smuggling and into prostitution.”

Rogge has suggested that athletes must be educated about corruption, and that education is needed worldwide to instill knowledge about how and where to prevent the betting and fixing cases that have become prevalent in a number of sports, including soccer, cricket, and even sumo wrestling.

Education is the task that Fred Lord, who spent 10 years on undercover missions to crack covert police corruption in his native Australia, is undertaking at Interpol. His department, the Interpol Integrity in Sports program, is headed by Michaela Ragg, a former German federal police officer, and advises sports bodies on how to spot criminality before it festers and grows.

“I’m not a soccer expert,” Lord said. “My skills were in undercover policing. Policemen aren’t out there looking for match-fixers, they’re looking for terrorists or organized criminals.”

Because behind the so-called sporting corruption, Lord suggests, the authorities often find crime syndicates using sports for anything from money laundering to entrapment.

A key player in the fight against corruption in sports, Interpol, which is based in Lyon, in southern France, does not actually make arrests itself. It acts as a liaison between the law-enforcement agencies of its 190 member countries, providing communications and database assistance. Its data include 140,000 fingerprints, 110,000 DNA samples, 170,000 wanted criminals, and records of 32 million missing passports or ID cards.

But Noble, the Interpol secretary general since 2000, can send advisers to potential trouble spots at the request of member countries, as he did with 60 officers dispatched to assist South African border police in preventing known criminals from entering the country during the 2010 soccer World Cup.

Similarly, while London will police the Olympic Games this summer with the assistance of the British government and Metropolitan Police and the military, Interpol will deploy a team of specialists to help to check the passport details of everyone entering the country through the period of the Games.

Interpol has had some successes against international betting rings, as have other police forces. In recent years, operations involving the police in China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macao, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam broke up major rings.

In South Korea last month, prosecutors said 16 professional volleyball players and two baseball players had been indicted in connection with match-fixing schemes.

In Italy, officials have made a number of arrests in recent months in connection with an ongoing investigation into match-fixing and illegal betting on soccer games. Several players have been among those arrested.

Although this investigation has for now not indicated links to Asian syndicates, the reach and resistance of the Hydra-like criminal networks is extensive and difficult to defeat.

A 2008 double murder in Newcastle, England, is a case in point. A young man and young woman, former university students from China, were murdered. The throat of Zhen Xing Yang was cut; the skull of his girlfriend, Xi Zhou, was smashed in three places. Before he died, investigators said, Yang was tortured.

The convicted murderer, an illegal immigrant from China named Guang Hui Cao, refused to give a motive for his crime. But detectives unearthed evidence that the victims were both involved with an Asian gambling ring that was relying on advance tips to bet on English soccer matches.

The two victims had apparently been recruiters acting for a Chinese syndicate that bet heavily on minor-league soccer games in the north of England. By exploiting a time lapse of one or two minutes between the play and the satellite broadcast in Asia, the police testified, the syndicate could place a winning bet on the next goal, throw-in, corner or free kick before they appeared to happen.

The culprit was arrested and sentenced to more than 30 years in prison. British detectives found no evidence linking him to soccer betting, but they did uncover plenty to implicate the victims. They have since said that, for want of resources, they have had to close the case.

Detectives had visited China but ran up against a wall of silence. The murderer maintains his silence behind bars, and some residents of Newcastle maintain theirs, too. Journalists and investigators of corruption in sports in general have often encountered a similar silence, even from informants hired to advise sports at the highest levels.”


Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at or at one of the offices listed above.

Battle to extradite Rwanda fugitives rages on

October 3, 2011

The East African on October 2, 2011 released the following:


Rwanda is coming under renewed global pressure to craft new strategies to arrest wanted genocide suspects from their hide outs ahead of next year’s UN court deadline.

Seventeen years after the 1994 genocide, at least 65 of the key masterminds remain at large despite efforts to track down genocide fugitives.

Concern is mounting ahead of the 2012 deadline when the mandate of the Arusha based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) — the UN court set up to deal with the atrocities — expires.

Nine of the most wanted genocide masterminds remain at large, with a bounty of $5 million each on their head under the US Rewards for Justice Programme since 2004.

Despite the incentive, some of the most wanted suspects remain untouched; notable among them is Felicien Kabuga, an alleged financier of the Rwanda genocide who has been rumoured to be hiding in Kenya.

Only 32 fugitives have been arrested by Interpol out of the over 97 red notices (arrest warrants) issued.

“It’s a huge problem.

They also have access to resources that allow them to hide from capture. But just to remind you; it took 10 years to track down Osama bin Laden,” said Ronald Noble, the Secretary General of Interpol, adding there was a need for a new strategy to fast track the arrest of the fugitives who have become “more elusive.”

“The fugitives usually move under false names and travel documents to evade arrest with 10 genocide suspects so far arrested with false documents,” he said. However, the Interpol chief observed that with increasing regional and cross-border cooperation among countries, progress has been made towards limiting the movements of the fugitives, citing recent arrests of genocide fugitives in Uganda and DRC.

However, Rwanda is on the verge of achieving a major breakthrough as several European countries holding fugitives have finally looked into the possibility of extraditing the suspects to face trial in Rwanda.

Among countries Rwanda has been involved in a long-standing debate with requests to have suspects extradited home are France, Sweden, Norway, Finland, the Netherlands and Denmark.

The argument has been that Rwanda does not have competent courts to accord extradited individuals a fair trial, a claim Rwanda dismisses.

“We have always been ready. Our position is clear, we are ready to take on these cases,” Rwanda’s Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga said.

Several requests, including some to the Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), have been turned down in the past on the same grounds. However, earlier this year, some countries including Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden and the ICTR itself, began to give in, agreeing to the argument that Rwanda has made some major reforms in the judiciary and can try some of these cases.

Norway has said it would extradite Charles Bandora, a genocide suspect who roamed several African countries before ending up in the Scandinavian country, but he appealed the decision in the European Human Rights Court (EHRC), which is yet to decide.

The Netherlands on the other hand has appreciated several reforms in the justice sector, some of which it finances, but it is yet to extradite any of the several suspects in Dutch jails. It will all depend on the EHRC.

The same is the case with Sylvere Ahorugeze in Sweden.

But then, just as Rwanda braces itself for the first ever extraditions from a European country, human rights watchdogs including Human Right Watch (HRW), Amnesty International and the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) are opposing the development. The groups have argued before the Strasbourg-based European court that Rwanda does not yet have a judiciary that is independent enough to accord the fugitives a fair trial.

“In theory, Rwanda is reforming its judiciary, but in practice those measures are still insufficient,” Carina Tertsakian from Human Rights Watch told the International Justice Tribune.

Ms Tertsakian, whose work permit was cancelled in April last year by Rwanda immigration authorities, and the representatives of Amnesty International and CHRI argue that the trials of the suspects risk being “politicised,” once transferred to Rwanda.

Mr Ngoga, however, dismissed the allegations, instead accusing the rights group of attempting to derail a process that was reaching a “promising stage.”

Mr Ngoga insists that organisation such as HRW, which has had a number of run-ins with the Rwandan government and Amnesty International, are determined to frustrate efforts to ensure justice takes its course.

“These organisations are always ready and opportunely present to oppose every initiative that would bring back to Rwanda genocide fugitives,” Mr Ngoga said.”

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at or at one of the offices listed above.

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Preventing the Next 9/11

September 8, 2011

International Herald Tribune (The Global Edition of the New York Times) on September 5-6, 2011 released the following:

“Opinion Editorial article by RONALD K. NOBLE

As we approach the 10th anniversary of the murder of thousands of citizens from more than 90 countries, I keep asking myself whether we are finally safe from the global terror threat.

Since those shocking attacks of 9/11, the death of Osama bin Laden, the elimination of terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and the concentrated international pressure on Al Qaeda have reshaped the nature of the threat confronting us.

We’ve seen terror attempts foiled by a combination of heightened security and awareness, improved intelligence gathering, robust enforcement by police and prosecutors, quick actions by an observant public and sheer luck: the “Detroit Christmas plot,” the “shoe bomber,” the Times Square bomber.

Yet we’ve also seen appalling carnage in Bali, Casablanca, Kampala, London, Madrid, Moscow and Mumbai and throughout Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. Tragically, this list is far from exhaustive.

In my official visits to 150 countries, I have witnessed first-hand the transformation from the post-9/11 single-minded focus by governments and law enforcement on Al Qaeda and foreign-born terrorists, to today’s concerns about foreign criminals generally, and cybercrime and security more specifically.

The question as we look forward, therefore, is how can we protect our countries from Al Qaeda’s remaining elements and from other emerging serious criminal threats on the horizon?

What has become clear to me is that unprecedented levels of physical and virtual mobility are both shaping and threatening our security landscape. With more people traveling by air than ever before — one billion international air arrivals last year with national and international air passenger figures estimated to reach around three billion by 2014 — I see the systematic screening of the passports and names of those crossing our borders as a top priority.

Citizens now submitted to stringent physical security checks in airports worldwide would be incredulous to learn that 10 years after 9/11, authorities today still allow one-out-of-two international airline passengers to cross their borders without checking whether they are carrying stolen or lost travel documents.

Yet all the evidence shows us that terrorists exploit travel to the fullest, often attempting to conceal their identity and their past by using aliases and fraudulent travel documents.

This global failure to properly screen travelers remains a clear security gap, all the more deplorable when the information and technology are readily available. Currently, less than a quarter of countries perform systematic passport checks against Interpol’s database, with details of 30 million stolen or lost travel documents. This failure puts lives at risk.

But preventing dangerous individuals from crossing borders at airports is only half the challenge. At a time when global migration is reaching record levels — there were an estimated 214 million migrants in 2010 — I see a need for migrants to be provided biometric e-identity documents that can be quickly verified against Interpol’s databases by any country, anytime and anywhere. Verification prior to the issuance of a work or residence permit would facilitate the efficient movement of migrants while enhancing the security of countries.

Virtual mobility also throws up its own security challenges. In 2000, less than 400 million individuals were connected to the Internet; an estimated 2.5 billion people will be able to access the net by 2015.

Extensive use of the Internet and freely accessible email accounts allowed Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the principal architect of 9/11, to communicate quickly and effectively with co-conspirators.

A decade later, we see the same power targeting new generations to radicalize and spawn “lone wolf” terrorists. The trial in Germany of a young man who blamed online jihadist propaganda for the double murder he committed is just one recent example.

I believe that the Internet has replaced Afghanistan as the terrorist training ground, and this should concern us the most.

Cyberspace can be both a means for, and a target of terrorism and crime, undermining the critical infrastructure of governments and businesses. Yet until now there has been no meaningful effort to prepare countries to tackle this global threat in the future.

This is why Interpol’s 188 member countries unanimously approved the creation in Singapore of a global complex to better prepare the world to fight cybercrime and enhance cybersecurity.

So as we honor the memories of those who perished 10 years ago, it is time to ask ourselves if we have done all that we can to prevent another 9/11 or other serious attack. A great deal has been done to make us all safer, but far too little to make sure that we are safe from the global terror and criminal threat.

If we act today, in 10 years’ time, we may not just be catching up after the latest attack, we may have prevented it.

Ronald K. Noble is Secretary General of INTERPOL.”

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at or at one of the offices listed above.

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