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Former Whitehawk defender Michael Boateng jailed for involvement in match-fixing

Image: Michael Boateng: Jailed for 16 months after involvement in match-fixing

Three men have been jailed at Birmingham Crown Court for conspiring to fix lower league matches last year.

Former Whitehawk defender Michael Boateng was sentenced to 16 months while businessmen Chann Sankaran and Krishna Ganeshan were handed five-year terms after being found guilty of conspiracy to commit bribery.

The jury in Birmingham found Sankaran and Ganeshan were the central conspirators in the plot, and had recruited Boateng, a player from Brighton-based Conference South team Whitehawk FC, to help them. A fourth man, Hakeem Adelakun, was acquitted.

The three guilty men were unanimously convicted on Tuesday following an investigation conducted by the National Crime Agency following evidence of wrongdoing supplied to the agency by the Daily Telegraph.

Ganeshan and Sankaran were caught on camera by an NCA surveillance operation paying Boateng and later placing bets and exchanging large amounts of foreign currency.

Telephone conversations were also recorded before the NCA took the decision to go in and arrest Sankaran and Ganeshan who were carrying over £3,000 in cash between them at the time when they were detained.

NCA branch commander Richard Warner said: “The NCA is in no doubt that Ganeshan and Sankaran were at the very beginning of a concerted attempt to build a network of corrupt players in the UK.

“Their aim was to influence play so that they could make spot bets and manipulate scorelines to generate large sums of money. They clearly had links to business-like networks overseas.

“This is not sport as a football-loving nation recognises it. It is corruption and bribery linked to serious organised crime, and the NCA is determined to stop criminals benefiting from it.

“The evidence in corruption cases is often either verbal or visual. Unless you are there when money changes hands, or plans are made, that evidence is gone.

“We had a vital opportunity here to intervene early, secure the evidence to get convictions, and put a stop to Sankaran’s and Ganeshan’s much wider and more sinister ambitions”.

In his closing address, Judge Melbourne Inman said: "Professional football and sport play an important part in national life and individuals' lives in this country.

"Those who make determined attempts to destroy its integrity for personal gain must expect significant prison sentences so when such acts are discovered a clear signal is sent to others."

The NCA has liaised with the Gambling Commission and the Football Association. Its investigation continues.

The Football Association, which last month ratified a worldwide ban on football betting, due to be introduced on August 1, issued a brief statement saying: "The FA notes the verdicts in this case and will continue to liaise with the appropriate authorities. The FA will make no further comment at this time.”

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