More details have emerged about the background and lifestyle of alleged cricket bookie Sanju Chawla who arrived back on Indian soil on Thursday to face charges relating to the infamous 2000 international match-fixing scandal. Chawla is one of the main suspects who will face trial over his involvement in spot-fixing and other conspiracy charges relating to South Africa’s one day series in India almost exactly two decades ago.
The Delhi-born businessman first moved to the UK in 1996 on a business visa, but made frequent trips back to India in the late 1990s, when it is alleged he was one of the main movers behind a Mumbai based betting syndicate which colluded with international cricketers based in India, Pakistan, South Africa and other countries to fix the result of matches in exchange for money.
One of those cricketers was South African Hansie Cronje, who was subsequently banned for life from cricket for his role in the affair, whilst several of his teammates, who he roped into the conspiracy, were given light suspensions and fines.
Meanwhile, Chawla, who was in India at the start of that series, before returning to the UK, had his Indian passport revoked that same year. Three years later he was granted indefinite right to remain in the UK and, in 2005, he became a British citizen.
He led an affluent lifestyle whilst in the UK, renting, with his wife and two sons, a £1 million six-bedroom house in North London, and running a catering business in the South-East of the capital.
In June 2016, following a petition for his extradition from the Delhi police, he was arrested by the UK police. However, Chawla raised questions about the facilities and security in Indian jails, and the process was delayed whilst the necessary assurances were provided,
The UK home secretary at the time, Sajid Javid approved the extradition, but Chawla took his appeal to the court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, who rejected it. He finally reached the end of the legal road in the UK earlier this week when two High Court judges turned down his final appeal, and he was finally put on the plane back.
Chawla is reported to have family in Delhi where he is being held awaiting trial, with relatives who are involved in the garment export business. He is also reported to have a stake in a restaurant owned by one of his fellow accused in Lajpat Nagar.