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BASKETBALL/15 indicted for game-fixing, betting in semi-pro basketball league

02/02/2024 04:53 PM
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Former Yulon Luxgen Dinos player Wu Chi-ying (center) is brought in to Shilin District Prosecutors Office in Taipei for questioning on Oct. 18, 2023. CNA file photo
Former Yulon Luxgen Dinos player Wu Chi-ying (center) is brought in to Shilin District Prosecutors Office in Taipei for questioning on Oct. 18, 2023. CNA file photo

Taipei, Feb. 2 (CNA) Taipei prosecutors have charged 10 former basketball players and five other people for their involvement in a game-fixing and betting scandal and asked the court to confiscate potential illicit gains of more than NT$20 million (US$641,000).

In a statement released Friday, the Shilin District Prosecutors Office said some players with the Yulon Luxgen Dinos of the semi-professional Super Basketball League (SBL) were found to have engaged in a gambling scheme, either personally or through acquaintances.

They were involved in game-fixing of SBL games from Dec. 27, 2022 to May 21, 2023, the prosecutors office said.

The 10 ex-Dinos players indicted are Ko Min-hao (柯旻豪), Wu Chi-ying (吳季穎), Chiu Chung-po (邱忠博), Chen Pin-chuan (陳品銓), Huang Hsuan-min (黃鉉閔), Wu Yu-jen (吳祐任), Chou Wei-chen (周暐宸), Yen Wen-tso (顏聞佐), Lee Chi-en (李其恩), and Senegalese Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba Sarr, according to the statement.

Also indicted for violating the Sports Lottery Issuance Act were Chiu Chi-wei (邱繼緯), an underground betting web site bookie, and four other individuals surnamed Huang (黃), Chang (張), Yu (游), and Chiu (邱).

The district prosecutors office has also issued an arrest warrant in January for former Dinos player Weng Chia-hung (翁嘉鴻), who has gone into hiding.

In the indictment, prosecutors asked the district court to rule appropriately on the Wu Chi-ying case given that Wu confessed to the scheme during the prosecutors' investigation, giving them clues to pursue other suspects, the office said.

Basketball player Ko Min-hao (right) plays for the Yulon Luxgen Dinos during an SBL game against the Bank of Taiwan's team on May 14, 2023. CNA file photo
Basketball player Ko Min-hao (right) plays for the Yulon Luxgen Dinos during an SBL game against the Bank of Taiwan's team on May 14, 2023. CNA file photo

According to the indictment, game-fixing, usually in the form of shaving points to win bets against the spread, took place in seven games, including an exhibition game between the Dinos and Taiwan Beer on Dec. 27, 2022, which the Dinos won 70-67.

Some other games involved in the scheme were the Dinos vs. Changhua BLL on Feb. 24, 2023 (83-74), the Dinos vs. Changhua BLL on April 8, 2023 (85-71), the Dinos vs. Changhua BLL on April 16 (78-75), and the Dinos vs. Changhua BLL on April 22 (71-73).

The other two games under investigation were the Dinos vs. Taiwan Beer on April 28 (which the Dinos lost 83-56), and the Dinos vs. Bank of Taiwan on April 30 (77-71).

Prosecutors found from records of conversations among the indicted former players that for the seven games, the betting lines set Yulon Luxgen Dinos' opponents as 6.5-13.5-point underdogs and the over and under for each game at 158.5 points.

For those games, the bookie Chiu instructed Ko that help was needed from the players to keep the score close, and then Ko and Wu Chi-ying would repeat the message to the players, prosecutors said.

Investigators launched an investigation into the case last year and obtained court approval to detain Ko and hold him incommunicado. Ko currently remains in custody after he was denied bail for a second time earlier this month.

(By Hsieh Hsin-en and Sean Lin)

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