Three of the Top 8 competitors, Peter Chao of Chinese Taipei and Tomoharu Saito and Satoshi Nakamura of Japan, have been disqualified without prize for their involvement in bribery.
Before the day's competition could begin, Peter Chao left without playing his match, saying that he had a job interview for which he had to be prepared. This gave his quarterfinal opponent, Tomoharu Saito, a bye into the semifinals.
As the round progressed, judges were informed that Chao had, in fact, agreed to a portion of Saito's winnings in exchange for his concession. The players involved were interviewed, at which time it became clear that the allegations were true. They also revealed that Nakamura had acted as an interpreter for the two players. Because he was aware of the bribe but did not come forward to officials, he was party to their crime.
Head Judge Jeff Donais released this statement:
"During the Top 8 on Sunday, we heard from several players that there may have been a money arrangement between Peter Chao and Tomoharu Saito. After interviewing the players involved, it was clear that Chao did not play his quarterfinal match (essentially conceding) in exchange for $2000 of Saito's prize money. When Chao made this offer to Saito, Satoshi Nakamura acted as his interpreter since Saito spoke no English. All three players were disqualified for participating in bribery. It is illegal to pay someone to concede a match. Regardless of who initiates the offer, all the involved parties are responsible. All the players were extremely cooperative during the brief investigation."
Satoshi Nakamura made the following statement:
"Peter approached Tomoharu the night before the finals, saying 'I have to return for work on Monday, so I am leaving on Sunday. Since I can't finish the tournament, I'm thinking about dropping. If I do, that means you'll win, so what do you think about sharing some of your prize with me?' Peter was speaking in English, and since Tomoharu doesn't understand any English, I offered to interpret what he was saying.
"Based on what Peter said, I was under the impression that regardless of whether an arrangement was made, Peter intended to leave, and that Tomoharu was guaranteed a win no matter what. When I explained this to Tomoharu, he was receptive. We did not believe that a bribe was being made, nor did we believe we were doing anything wrong. We felt that we were making a gentleman's agreement, that it was only fair that Peter receive a 'consolation prize,' as he was unable to continue playing due to circumstances beyond his control.
"Unfortunately for us, my and Tomoharu's understanding of the Penalty Guidelines was woefully insufficient. When Peter told us that he would 'tell the judges' about the situation, we thought everything was all right and told ourselves that everything must be on the level if Peter was going to talk to the tournament staff. That was a mistake. As soon as we began discussing money changing hands over a match, we were in violation of the Penalty Guidelines. Just as a murderer would still be punished even if he claimed that he didn't know killing someone was against the law, we could not defend ourselves by saying we we unfamiliar with the Penalty Guidelines.
"Tomoharu and Peter were determined to be guilty of attempted collusion. I was also found guilty, as it was my responsibility to stop them, or at least inform tournament staff of what was transpiring, as soon as I was aware of the situation. Instead, I actively promoted the infraction by acting as an interpreter. As a result, both Peter and Tomoharu have lost their hard-earned invitations to the World Championship, and all three of us have traded in our title of 'APAC Top 8 competitor' for an unscrupulous reputation.
"It is only natural that I take responsibility for my actions. I have been told that further penalties may be announced at a later time. If the DCI Penalty Committee determines that further penalties are appropriate, it is my intent to accept them without complaint. If any good comes of this situation, I hope it is that those reading this statement do not make the same mistake I have.
"A sanctioned tournament is a place where people come to determine who is the better Magic player. The Penalty Guidelines exist to ensure that matches are played fairly and with integrity. I recommend anyone who is planning on playing in a sanctioned tournement to review them and be aware of his or her responsibility as a player. Believe me when I tell you that in this case, ignorance is not bliss."