11 arrested in Croatia, Slovenia in sports corruption case

Slovenian and Croatian security have busted an international crime syndicate involved in sports corruption, illegal betting and trying to fix soccer matches in several countries including Serbia, Macedonia and the Czech Republic, European police said Tuesday.

Europol said that 13 house searches and 15 vehicles searches in different locations in Slovenia and Croatia were carried out and 11 people were arrested. The "network had created an illegal web platform in order to convey large bets on major Asian bookmakers," police said.

Europol said the investigation began in March, when Slovenian police "realized that an organized crime group had created different websites as part of an online illegal betting platform used to place bets on manipulated sport events that took place in multiple European countries."

"The criminals are suspected of being involved in attempts to fix professional football matches in at least Serbia, FYROM (Macedonia) and the Czech Republic," Europol said. "The organized criminal group behind these activities has been betting primarily on the Asian market, where they were guaranteed considerable financial gains by knowing the end result of the matches."

European police said that the illegal betting platform had been designed in such a way to ensure total anonymity of the financial transactions.

"The ring developed synergies with other top criminal groups in different countries in order to invest money gained from other serious crimes, including drug trafficking," police said.

"Sports corruption is a serious crime and a truly global phenomenon carried out by organized crime groups, most often operating cross-border," said Sergio D'Orsi, Europol's specialist on sports corruption.