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BASKETBALL/7 people handed to prosecutors on suspicion of basketball game-fixing

11/17/2023 10:44 PM
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Yulon Luxgen Dinos player Ko Min-hao (center) is taken to the Taiwan Shilin District Prosecutors Office in Taipei for questioning Friday. CNA photo Nov. 17, 2023
Yulon Luxgen Dinos player Ko Min-hao (center) is taken to the Taiwan Shilin District Prosecutors Office in Taipei for questioning Friday. CNA photo Nov. 17, 2023

Taipei, Nov. 17 (CNA) The Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) handed seven of 12 individuals on suspicion of basketball game-fixing to the Taiwan Shilin District Prosecutors Office for further investigations on Friday.

Shilin prosecutors and police officers in the CIB's 4th Investigation Corps brought a total of 16 people to the prosecutors office in Taipei for questioning earlier in the day following a series of raids in northern Taiwan, the office told the press.

The raids were conducted at 16 locations in Taipei, New Taipei and Taoyuan, including the residences of those suspected of game-fixing and the dormitory of Yulon Luxgen Dinos, a team in the semi-professional Super Basketball League (SBL), the office added.

Friday's raids are the latest action taken by prosecutors after former Dinos player Wu Chi-ying's (吳季穎) alleged involvement in game-fixing was reported by the local press in mid-October.

Of the 16 individuals questioned, 12 were suspected of criminal acts and four were witnesses. They included Wu's ex-girlfriend Huang Pin-hsuan (黃品瑄), Dinos players, coaches, medical staffers, underground bookmakers etc., with some having their mobiles phones and laptops confiscated.

One of the coaches is former Dinos head coach Chiou Dah-tzong (邱大宗), currently head coach of the Kaohsiung 17LIVE Steelers in the P.LEAGUE+.

Former Yulon Luxgen Dinos head coach Chiou Dah-tzong (center) goes to the Taiwan Shilin District Prosecutors Office in Taipei for questioning Friday. CNA photo Nov. 17, 2023
Former Yulon Luxgen Dinos head coach Chiou Dah-tzong (center) goes to the Taiwan Shilin District Prosecutors Office in Taipei for questioning Friday. CNA photo Nov. 17, 2023

In response to reports saying that Chiou nodded when asked if he was aware of game-fixing when he coached the Dinos, the Steelers issued a statement from Chiou, saying the nod had been intended as a hello to the press and he had no knowledge of game-fixing during his stint with the SBL team.

Evidence indicates the suspects bet on games, assisted in betting under with the guidance of underground bookmakers or provided access to their bank accounts, according to prosecutors.

Based on a preliminary investigation, police consider former assistant coach Chiu Ting-yu (邱廷昱) to be the underground bookmaker, with whom players like Wu and the reigning SBL MVP Ko Min-hao (柯旻豪) cooperated in game-fixing, the Shilin prosecutors said.

However, Ko and other players denied their involvement.

The prosecutors will look into the case while focusing on the breach of fraud and gambling rules, referring to the Sports Lottery Issuance Act.

According to Article 21 of the Sports Lottery Issuance Act, "Any person who violates the fairness of games related to wagering targets through means of violence, coercion, swindling or other illegal activities shall be subjected to a prison sentence of one to seven years and a fine of no less than NT$10 million (US$314,720) and no more than NT$30 million."

Since Wu's alleged involvement in game-fixing came to light, two professional T1 LEAGUE players Lo Chen-feng (羅振峰) and Chen Ching-huan (陳靖寰), who were under contract with Taiwan Beer Leopards and Tainan TSG GhostHawks, respectively, have either been fired or asked to take time off for alleged involvement in the case.

hang Cheng-chung (right), deputy secretary-general of the Chinese Taipei Basketball Association, is interviewed by reporters. CNA file photo
hang Cheng-chung (right), deputy secretary-general of the Chinese Taipei Basketball Association, is interviewed by reporters. CNA file photo

"The stance of the Chinese Taipei Basketball Association remains the same no matter how the case develops, we are not going to change on this, that is to get rid of these flawed products that are detrimental to Taiwan basketball," said Chang Cheng-chung (張承中), deputy secretary-general of the Chinese Taipei Basketball Association, which supervises the sport in Taiwan.

Asked to comment on the matter, Chang said the association remains in close contact with the Yulon franchise and will address the case with a serious attitude and the highest standards.

However, Chang denied that the upcoming SBL season would be impacted by the case despite the alleged involvement of most of the Dinos players.

"There is no possibility the Yulon could be disbanded. The new SBL season is right around the corner, nothing has been impacted so far," he said.

As of the press time, neither the Yulon franchise's PR team nor the team's head coach Lee Chi-yi (李啟億) could not be contacted by CNA.

(By Li Chien-chung, Hsieh Hsing-en, Liu Chien-pang and Chao Yen-hsiang)

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