Top Aussie Table Tennis Player Arrested as Suspected Head of Transnational Match-Fixing Syndicate

Posted on: December 17, 2020, 07:26h. 

Last updated on: December 17, 2020, 12:23h.

Police in Australia have arrested a former table tennis champion on suspicion of fixing matches as part of a transnational crime syndicate.

Adam Green
Adam Green, seen here, shortly after Australian police charged him with corrupt betting offenses. (Image: 9News)

Adam Green, 40, was arrested in Newcastle, New South Wales on Wednesday. That’s after a tip-off from bookmakers highlighted suspicious betting patterns related to matches played in Ukraine over the summer.

Green is accused of placing “corrupt bets” on matches using betting accounts in other people’s names. Police described Green as “the head” of the syndicate, which made at least A$500,000 ($381,000) from the fixed matches.

Organized crime detectives raided nine properties in the Newcastle area suspected of having links to the operation. About A$12,000 ($9,200) in cash, plus electronic devices and documents were seized.

Former Olympic Hopeful

Police said they are investigating whether Green persuaded players to fix games on behalf of the syndicate, and just how many people were involved in the operation. Green, a former Australian champion who had once been considered an Olympic hopeful, is accused of wiring money to others who had involvement in the Ukrainian matches.

He [Green] has been charged with a number of offenses, including using his influence to conduct corrupt betting on sporting events,” said Detective Superintendent Martin Fileman. “In other words, they knew who was going to win the match before they put the bets on.” 

The wholesale shutdown of elite sporting events last March in response to the coronavirus pandemic shifted gamblers’ focus to the few fringe sports that were still running. These included the Belarusian Premier League and table tennis based in Russia and Ukraine.

Betting ‘Out of Sync’

In May, a panel of sports betting insiders at the SBG Digital Summit expressed concern that the sudden surge in betting volume around these events. This was coupled with relatively low-paid participants, which could make them ripe for match-fixing.

“There is normally a symbiosis between the level of wagers in a particular competition and the turnover of that competition,” said Hong Kong Jockey Club Head of Trading and panel member Rupert Bolingbroke.

“The whole model has been blown up, so that the only content you have got is, for example, the Belarusian League, which has been sold to just about everybody,” he added. “That puts the entire wagers to turnover of the event out of sync, which means that the fixers can afford to place large bets and pay small fees to get the match fixed.”

Bollingbroke was not casting aspersions on the integrity of Belarusian soccer at the time, merely highlighting its newfound vulnerability to exploitation. Those fears have played out in the neighboring country of Ukraine.