On October 29, the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced that it had banned Bangladesh cricket captain Shakib Al Hasan from all cricket for two years (with one of those years suspended), after he accepted three charges of breaching the ICC Anti-Corruption Code for Participants. Under Article 2.4.4 of the Code, it is an offense for a player to fail to disclose to the ICC Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU), without unnecessary delay, “full details of any approaches or invitations received by the Participant to engage in Corrupt Conduct under the Anti-Corruption Code.”
Al Hasan was presented with three charges under Article 2.4.4: (1) Failure to disclose to the ACU “full details of any approaches or invitations he received to engage in Corrupt Conduct – in relation to the Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe Tri-Series in January 2018 and/or the 2018 [Indian Premier League (IPL)]”; (2) Failure to disclose to the ACU “full details of any approaches or invitations he received to engage in Corrupt Conduct – in relation to a second approach in respect of the Tri-Series in January 2018”; and (3) Failure to disclose to the ACU “full details of any approaches or invitations he received to engage in Corrupt Conduct – in relation to an IPL 2018 match between Sunrisers Hyderabad v Kings XI Punjab on 26 April 2018.”
The ICC decision in this case made clear that the charges pertained to Al Hasan’s failure to report overtures he had received from “an individual known to the ACU and suspected of involvement in corruption in cricket, Deepak Aggarwal,” via WhatsApp to provide Aggarwal with inside information for betting purposes.
Under Article 6 of the Code, a violation of Article 2.4.4 can result in a period of ineligibility from six months to five years. In this case, the ICC weighed both aggravating and mitigating factors. The aggravating factors included:
- Al Hasan’s failure to report “not one but three approaches” from Aggarwal to provide him with Inside Information;
- The occurrence of Aggarwal’s approaches and Al Hasan’s failures “over a period of several months”;
- The approaches to Al Hasan “were clear in their content and intent”;
- Al Hasan’s status as “an experienced international cricketer who, having participated in several anti-corruption education sessions, was fully aware of his responsibilities under the Code”; and
- Al Hasan’s “position of responsibility as captain of the Bangladesh national side.”
The mitigating factors included:
- “Al Hasan’s voluntary admission and cooperation during his interviews with the ACU”;
- “Al Hasan’s prompt admission of his breaches following receipt of the [ICC] Notice of Charge”;
- “Al Hasan’s remorse and contrition as expressed to the ACU”;
- Al Hasan’s “previous good disciplinary record”;
- “The fact that the offences did not substantially damage the commercial value and/or public interest in the relevant matches”; and
- “The fact that the offences did not affect the outcome of the relevant matches.”
The ICC concluded that a two-year ban, with 12 months of that being suspended, “is reasonable and proportionate.”
Although Al Hasan told the ACU that he did not accept or act upon any of the approaches he received from Aggarwal, and did not provide Aggarwal with any of the information requested, he chose to admit the charges and accept the ban. Provided that he complies with the terms of the suspension—i.e., not committing any offence under the Code (or the anti-corruption rules of any National Cricket Federation) during the initial period of suspension, and participating “promptly and fully in any anti-corruption education and/or rehabilitation programmes as specified by the ICC” – Al Hasan will be eligible to resume international cricket on October 29, 2020.
N.B.: This ICC decision is significant in part because of the prominence of Al Hasan as an experienced cricketer, and in part because it sanctions Al Hasan specifically for failure to report corrupt overtures. This sanction, coupled with the ICC’s recent charging of three United Arab Emirates cricketers on multiple charges that included alleged violations of Article 2.4.4, sends a strong signal that cricketers must take seriously their obligation to disclose promptly any and all corrupt overtures.