Wellington: New Zealand Cricket tipped off the International Cricket Council about possible match-fixing at the Hong Kong Sixes tournament last year after players became suspicious of the intentions of a person who offered them presents, a report said today.
The players were questioned by ICC's Anti-corruption Unit but were never under suspicion of match-fixing and told investigators that they had not been asked to do anything illicit, according to 'Sunday Star Times'.
According to the report, the New Zealand team in that tournament -- which featured Daryl Tuffey, Nathan McCullum and Scott Styris -- wined and dined with the suspicious businessman, a Middle East-based diamond dealer, who was already on the anti-corruption unit's watchlist.
At that time, they had no idea of the man's identity, but became suspicious when he offered them discounted gems and other benefits.
Team manager Steve Wilkins told NZC of the approach and they in turn tipped off ICC's anti-corruption and security unit.
NZC chief executive Justin Vaughan, however, said the ICC "never had any concerns about the incident". "I don't believe there was anything untoward," he was quoted as saying.
Asked if his players were asked to do anything illegal, Vaughan replied, "Not to my knowledge".
New Zealand Players' Association chief Heath Mills confirmed the approach by the suspicious person and the subsequent questioning of the players by the ICC ACSU. "The team did have dinner with a gentleman in Hong Kong.
We understand he might have been involved in diamond industry and was keen to offer products to the players. His behaviour was suspicious and the team manager reported that to NZC and ICC's anti-corruption unit. That was the right thing to do. The players were questioned about their contact with this gentleman," Mills said.
Mills said the questioning of the players was "standard procedure" for the ICC and he was "comfortable" that both the players and NZC had done the right thing.
"But this is a reminder to everyone about how vigilant they need to be in this area," he said.
Until now, the ACSU had not monitored the tournament, which is effectively a privately run festival event but has the ICC's sanction.