By Jean Décotte
MONTPELLIER, France (Reuters) - France's Olympic champion Samuel Honrubia was placed under formal investigation for fraud amid a handball match-fixing scandal, his lawyer said on Tuesday.
Honrubia, a former Montpellier player now at Paris St Germain, was arrested on Sunday following a French league game in Paris against Montpellier.
"He denies this charge," his lawyer, Patrick Maisonneuve, told reporters. "He admits to betting, but it's not a criminal offence."
Another Olympic champion, Nikola Karabatic, was also expected to be placed under formal investigation later on Tuesday after being presented before Montpellier judges.
Karabatic, who led France to back-to-back Olympic titles in 2008 and this year, and Honrubia, another London gold winner, were among 15 people being heard in Montpellier by judges Thomas Meindl and Marie-Christine Desplat-Didier.
Prosecutor Brice Robin alleges that a total of 87,880 euros ($113,400) of bets were placed on a first division game between Montpellier and Cesson-Sevigne last May - 40 times the usual amount for this kind of match.
Most of the bets were placed around the same time of day and 99.94 percent were placed on struggling Cesson-Sevigne to lead at halftime, he added.
Robin said the investigation was focused on the players and their relatives, with both clubs' chairmen and coaches having been cleared of any suspicion of wrongdoing.
(Reporting by Jean Decotte; Writing by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ken Ferris)
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