Five Armenians have been imprisoned in Belgium after being charged with corruption and money laundering, as part of a Belgian court investigation targeting a criminal organisation that specialises in the rigging of tennis matches, the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office announced on Wednesday.
Following 13 arrests on Tuesday morning, eight people “were released after interrogation,” said the federal prosecutor in a statement.
The investigation concerns rigged bets on the matches of the secondary tournaments in the “Challenger” and “Future” levels.
This judicial investigation showed that an Armenian-Belgian criminal organisation actively bribed professional tennis players from 2014 to the present day in order to obtain a pre-arranged match result with the aim of betting on these fixed matches based on insider information, thereby fraudulently boosting winnings.
After the hearings of the thirteen suspects started on Tuesday, five arrest warrants were awarded by the investigating judge of the region of Ghent (north-west) in charge of the case.
They concern five men aged 27 to 54, “all of Armenian nationality”, according to the federal prosecutor who presents them with their first name, the initial of their name and their date of birth.
The five men were “charged with corruption, money laundering, forgery and belonging to a criminal organisation,” the statement said.
“In total, about 250,000 euros were seized during the action in Belgium. In addition, several media and documents were taken for analysis,” it adds.
Belgian authorities cooperated with Bulgarian, Dutch, French, German, Slovakian and US counterparts in mounting simultaneous raids on Tuesday.
No details have been given by official sources on the searches carried out elsewhere than in Belgium. According to the Dutch media, two arrests were also held Tuesday in the Netherlands.
The thirteen arrests were made On Tuesday in Belgium after 21 searches carried out mainly in the Brussels region and the Flemish cities of Mechelen and Grammont.