WELLINGTON - An inquiry into corruption that has rocked world cricket is entering its final stages, officials said on Saturday, as former New Zealand international Chris Cairns was to fly to London to be interviewed by police.
Cairns has vehemently denied any involvement in corruption but believes he is the person alleged to be "Player X" the match-fixing ringleader mentioned by former team-mates Lou Vincent and Brendon McCullum. International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive Dave Richardson said he believed investigators were "not far away" from interviewing Cairns and the inquiry would be wrapped up in a matter of weeks.
"We are at the end of the investigation. It is close to being finalised and I'm sure Chris Cairns will be spoken to and given an opportunity to put his side of the story," Richardson told Radio Sport.Cairns' lawyer confirmed to the New Zealand Herald that he was heading to England on Saturday to be interviewed.
"Chris Cairns is meeting with the Met police to conclude the interview he started and is also hoping to meet with the ICC anti-corruption unit," lawyer Aaron Lloyd said. Details of the investigation into match and spot-fixing of cricket matches in several countries, as well as the role of Player X, have emerged in a series of leaked documents in recent weeks.
Much of the evidence came from former New Zealand international Vincent, who already faces several charges along with Pakistani paceman Naveed Arif.According to the leaked evidence, Vincent provided a "treasure trove" of information about offers of cash and sex to fix matches.
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum, who is not under investigation, has told how he was shocked when his "hero" Player X unsuccessfully tried to recruit him in a match-fixing scam in 2008. Cairns confirmed last December he had been linked to the corruption investigation and has since consistently challenged ICC investigators to talk to him.He has already held initial talks with London's Metropolitan Police.
When details of Vincent's testimony first emerged, the ICC suggested it could take more than a year before the investigation was completed, but Richardson has now indicated "a matter of weeks" was realistic. "Although part of it does involve a police investigation in the UK, which I can't really vouch for as to when that will be finalised.
"But certainly from our perspective the investigations are close to finality and hopefully we should be making announcements pretty soon," he said. "Vincent and Arif face multiple charges by the England and Wales Cricket Board over allegedly fixing the outcome of a match against Kent when they were playing for Sussex in 2011. Vincent has said he expected to face more charges.
The match-fixing evidence he provided to the ICC's anti-corruption investigators covered matches in five countries between 2008 and 2012. The ICC probe's focus on Vincent, Cairns and another New Zealander, Daryl Tuffey, was first revealed in December. Tuffey has also denied any wrongdoing.