x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Businessmen may have killed himself because of scandal

The 'spot-fixing' scandal involving Pakistan¿s international cricketers has apparently led to the suicide of a wealthy London businessman.

LONDON //The "spot-fixing" scandal involving Pakistan's international cricketers has apparently led to the suicide of a wealthy London businessman. It was revealed yesterday that David Le Cluse, the chairman of a football club owned by the alleged fixer behind the scam, had shot himself in a garage near his south London home on Saturday.

The football club, Croydon Athletic, is being investigated by police and tax officials after Mazhar Majeed, the owner, boasted to undercover reporters that he used the club to launder money from the cricket-betting scam. Mr Majeed, who is also being investigated for money laundering and for attempting to defraud bookmakers, was secretly filmed in August as he accepted £150,000 (Dh872,000) in cash from reporters from the newspaper News of the World.

In return, Mr Majeed promised that Pakistani bowlers would default with "no-balls" at specific times during a Test match between England and Pakistan. The no-balls were duly delivered, potentially making thousands of dollars for gamblers on the spot betting market - where punters wager on single events - in the Subcontinent and Far East. Two Pakistani bowlers, Mohammad Aamir and Mohammad Asif, were subsequently suspended from the tour and sent home, along with captain Salman Butt, a friend of Mr Majeed who acted as a commercial agent for several of the players.

Le Cluse, 44, who owned a pest extermination company and was married with two children, was said to have been devastated when Croydon Athletic became embroiled in the scandal. Tim O'Shea, who resigned as manager of the club when the scandal broke, told The Times: "He was very upset at the allegations and the club getting involved. It probably hit him harder than most because of his personal friendship with Majeed.

"He wanted nothing more than for the club to succeed and he was probably upset and affected by it more than anybody else." Le Cluse was brought in to run the club by Mr Majeed last November after Dean Fisher, the previous chairman, was arrested and charged with defrauding his employers. Fisher was jailed for three years in July. After Mr Majeed's arrest, his assets were frozen, leaving Croydon Athletic, who play in the Ryman League, unable to pay staff and sending them to the brink of extinction. All but one of the players, along with Mr O'Shea, left the club.

Le Cluse had been devising a plan that would see the club through to the end of the season and, two weeks ago, Mr Majeed issued a £10,000 bond to the league, guaranteeing that the team would complete its remaining league fixtures. On Saturday, however, Le Cluse seems to have taken a shotgun to the garage and killed himself. A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "A 44-year-old man suffered what is believed to have been a gunshot wound to the head. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

"The circumstances of his death are being treated as unexplained. Inquiries are ongoing."

dsapsted@thenational.ae