MATCH-FIXING? Questions remain over the possibility that Yen Chia-hua threw games as head coach during the 2015 William Jones Cup, which the nation hosted
By Jason Pan / Staff reporter
Former men’s national basketball team manager Yen Chia-hua （閻家驊） was yesterday fined NT$1 million （US$33,271） and banned from the sport for engaging in illegal gambling, following the completion of a half-year investigation by prosecutors.
When questioned and presented with evidence, Yen admitted to betting on matches with underground betting pool operators over the past three years, the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office said in a statement.
As Yen confessed to the wrongdoing, the prosecutors deferred an indictment, instead placing him on probation for 18 months, but imposed the fine and 140 hours of community service.
For his community service, “Yen is to lead educational programs for basketball players, warn students against vote-buying during elections and teach classes related to the law, the functioning of the legal system and the operations of law enforcement agencies,” the statement said.
The investigation of 63-year-old Yen began in February, following allegations of his involvement in illegal gambling and match-fixing. He was summoned for questioning and released on bail of NT$500,000, and was forced to resign as head coach of the Super Basketball League’s Taiwan Beer.
While the prosecutors’ deferred indictment was widely perceived as leniency, officials of the league and the sport’s governing bodies yesterday imposed a lifetime ban against Yen, prohibiting him from any professional involvement in the game.
The allegations of illegal gambling against Yen rocked the nation’s sports community, as he was a highly respected figure who enjoyed a string of successes, having led Taiwan Beer to four championship titles and holding the league’s record for most wins by a coach at 225.
Investigators found that Yen began betting on sports in 2014, when he became involved with two underground gambling pool operators surnamed Tsai （蔡） and Ko （柯）.
The two organized betting pools in collaboration with an online sports gambling site run by Jiu Zhou Entertainment, which offers betting on sports competitions worldwide, including European soccer, basketball, tennis, football, baseball and hockey.
Jiu Zhou Entertainment, popular in the Chinese-speaking world for gambling, is registered in the Philippines to skirt laws and claims to to hold a gambling license issued by Philippines-based First Cagayan Leisure and Resort Corp.
Investigators reportedly found that Yen used Tsai’s and Ko’s accounts on the gambling site to place bets on NBA and MLB games, as well as on the results of the William Jones Cup in 2015, when he was manager of the national team, with Taiwan hosting the tournament.
His betting on the tournament led to the match-fixing allegations, as he might have thrown games, but the prosecutors did not provide any details on the matter in the statement.
The prosecutors had intended to press charges of match-fixing and defrauding the public against Yen, but they were dropped due to insufficient evidence, the statement said.