Match-fixing: 14 nabbed as S’pore swoops on international ring

Match-fixing: 14 nabbed as S’pore swoops on international ring
Photo: Reuters
Published: 4:02 AM, September 19, 2013
Updated: 4:00 AM, September 20, 2013

SINGAPORE — Fourteen Singaporeans suspected of being part of an international football match-fixing syndicate have been arrested in the biggest operation against such activities here to date.

Among the 14 nabbed are a suspected ringleader and others who are the subject of similar investigations overseas, Singapore police and the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) said yesterday. It is unclear whether the latest bust is related to matches in Singapore or Malaysia.

The arrests took place during a 12-hour operation that ended in the early hours of Tuesday.

In a report in February, Europol, the European police agency, said that a Singapore-based syndicate was allegedly behind a global match-fixing ring involving 425 people, including players and officials from 15 countries. The group’s profits are said to be around €8 million (S$13 million), with some €2 million in bribes paid out.

In a statement released last night, Interpol said officers from Singapore’s Criminal Investigation Department and the CPIB had met investigators from Europe at the Interpol General Secretariat headquarters in March to “review evidence of alleged match-fixing by a transnational organised crime group based in Singapore”.

Said Interpol Secretary-General Ronald Noble: “Singaporean authorities have taken an important step in cracking down on an international match-fixing syndicate by arresting the main suspects in the case, including the suspected mastermind; no person should doubt Singapore’s commitment to fighting match-fixing.”

TODAY understands that all the suspects — 12 men and two women between 38 and 60 — are Singaporeans. The Singapore authorities said that five persons, including the suspected leader, have been held for further investigations under the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act (Chapter 67), while the other nine will be released on bail.

When contacted, a Football Association of Singapore spokesman said: “Match-fixing of any form has no place in society. Like the authorities, FAS takes a serious view of any corrupt practices in Singapore and we will always support, and work with, the relevant agencies to combat match-fixing which is today a global problem.”

In May, it was reported that a key suspect, Dan Tan Seet Eng, was assisting Singapore authorities in investigations after being charged in Hungary with fixing 32 games in three countries. In June, three Lebanese football officials were handed jail sentences here after being convicted of accepting sexual favours to fix an Asian Football Confederation Cup match in April.

The trial of their alleged fixer, Singaporean businessman Eric Ding Si Yang, is set to resume on Oct 31 after the second tranche of the hearing ended earlier this month.

Reports in Australia this week suggest that Singaporean Wilson Raj Perumal, who has served time in Finland for match-fixing and is in Hungary as a protected witness, may be behind a rigging scandal in Australia’s second-tier football. TODAY understands he was not among the 14 arrested.