Ex-CBI sleuth to head ICC’s anti-corruption unit


Mumbai : Former Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) joint director Ravi Sawani was Thursday named to head the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) of the International Cricket Council (ICC).

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ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed made the announcement at a press conference here.

“It’s great we are able to appoint Sawani to the position,” he said.

Sawani, 57, takes over from Jeff Rees, who is retiring after holding the post since the inception of the ACSU in 2000 following the Hansie Cronje match-fixing scandal, the ICC announced here.

Sawani, who comes from Chennai, has 30 years of experience in the Indian Police Service (IPS), including seven years with the CBI. He was part of the CBI team that investigated the Cronje case and then prepared a report on it.

The Indian cricket, on the basis of this report, banned Mohammed Azharuddin and Ajay Sharma for life after South Africa captain Cronje’s telephone conversation was tapped by the Delhi Police before the case was transferred to CBI.

The Indian cricket board had also banned Manoj Prabhakar, Ajay Jadeja and team physiotherapist Ali Irani while Cronje faced an inquiry in his country before he died in a plane crash.

Sawani will take charge at the ICC headquarters in Dubai next week, and will work alongside ACSU chairman Lord Condon and with three investigators and five regional security managers.

“With Jeff stepping down, we are fortunate to have a person of Ravi’s outstanding credentials to take over and I am certain he will continue Jeff’s great work,” said Condon, welcoming the Indian.

“I am delighted he is joining us and I am sure his presence will help ensure we remain a model for other sports in the fight against corruption.”

Paying tribute to Rees, Condon said: “Jeff has been outstanding in the role in, first of all, ensuring we got to grips with the issue of corruption that riddled the sport when the unit was formed in 2000, and then making sure we have stayed on top of it over the past few years.”

Condon said that international matches were played fairly now.

“With all the measures we have put in place, we are now at the stage where the public can be confident that when they watch an international match they are seeing something that is genuine and fairly contested,” he said.

“However, with the rise of spread betting, the ever-increasing opportunities people have to bet on almost any event within a match, the vast sums of money that are wagered and the explosion in popularity of a new format at international level, we can never afford to be complacent.”

Sawani, who speaks English, Hindi, Tamil and Punjabi, said his stint with the CBI had helped him understand many of the issues involved in managing the fight against corruption.

Sawani’s other professional accomplishments include five years as a senior member of the Special Protection Group, which protects the Indian prime minister in the wake of the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984.

As joint commissioner of police in charge of Madras Metropolitan Police, Sawani was awarded the Indian Police Medal for Meritorious Services, and during his time with the CBI he received the President of India’s Police Medal for Distinguished Services, the highest police medal in the country, in 2001.

“I am delighted to have been chosen and am looking forward to the challenges it presents,” said Sawani.

“By doing that, we will ensure that our strong sport continues to grow stronger.”