Businessman could face jail after match fixing plot conviction

A BUSINESSMAN from Hastings convicted of being involved in a plot to fix the results of lower league matches could be jailed when he is sentenced today (Friday).

Krishna Ganeshan, of Hawthorn Road, Hastings, was found guilty on Tuesday of conspiracy to commit bribery.

The 44-year-old was found guilty alongside businessman Chann Sankaran, 33, of Houang Avenue, Singapore and former Whitehawk FC defender Michael Boateng, 22, who were also convicted of the same offence.

During the trial, Ganeshan and Sankaran, were described as the ‘central figures’ in efforts to influence the outcome of matches in League Two and the Conference South.

Ganeshan, Sankaran and Boateng, of Davidson Road, Croydon, south London, had all denied a single count of conspiracy to offer, promise or give a financial advantage to other persons. The trio will be sentenced today (Friday) for conspiracy to commit bribery, which carries a maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment.

A fourth defendant, Hakeem Adelakun, of Thornton Heath, south London, who has also played for Brighton-based Whitehawk, was acquitted by the jury of any involvement in the conspiracy. The 23-year-old told the jury he knew nothing at all about any plot to fix matches.

Meanwhile jurors were discharged from reaching a verdict on a third ex-Whitehawk footballer, Moses Swaibu, after deliberating for more than 15 hours. Swaibu, 25, of Tooley Street, Bermondsey, south London, denies a single count of conspiracy and was granted unconditional bail pending a retrial.

The Crown alleged at the start of the trial that Sri Lankan-born Ganeshan and Sankaran conspired to fix matches which they intended to place bets on. Opening the case to the jury on May 19, prosecutor Robert Davies said Sankaran and Ganeshan travelled to the UK from Singapore intending to target non-league conference football.

The two businessmen intended to use the minimum level of bribe to get the maximum betting return, the court heard.

“They’ve come across to the UK with a plan to find lower league players willing to take a bribe or encourage other players to do so,” prosecutor Robert Davies told the jury.

A National Crime Agency (NCA) inquiry into the conspiracy began when the Daily Telegraph presented the agency with evidence from its own undercover investigation.

A spokesman for Whitehawk FC said Adelakun and Boateng had been dismissed after being suspended following their arrest in November last year. Swaibu, was no longer on the club’s playing staff at the time of the allegations at the centre of the court proceedings.

Following this week’s verdicts the NCA said the plot had failed in efforts to influence the result of a match between AFC Wimbleon and Dagenham and Redbridge in November 26 last year.

Ganeshan and Sankaran flew into Manchester airport five days before that date and were then monitored by surveillance teams, the NCA said.

NCA branch commander Richard Warner said: “The Telegraph’s investigation suggested that Sankaran and Ganeshan were coming to the UK intent on fixing football matches. Our priority when they arrived was to determine the extent of their plans and identify any networks they might have had access to.”

He added: “The NCA is in no doubt that Ganeshan and Sankaran were at the very beginning of a concerted attempt to build a network of corrupt players in the UK.

“Their aim was to influence play so that they could make spot bets and manipulate scorelines to generate large sums of money.”