A Singaporean businessman who allegedly induced three Lebanese referees to fix a soccer match by offering them free sex rejected corruption charges yesterday and sought bail.
Eric Ding Si Yang, 31, has been held in Changi Prison since he was charged with three counts of corruption on Saturday.
The three Lebanese, arrested earlier, are also being held in the same jail on similar charges pending their bail hearing.
The four are the first to be arrested since Singapore came under pressure to crack down on match-fixing, but they have not been linked so far to syndicates in the city-state allegedly rigging soccer matches worldwide.
“We are going to trial, your honor,” Ding’s lawyer Thong Chee Kun told District Judge Kamala Ponnampalam yesterday when asked for his client’s plea.
State prosecutors opposed bail, but the judge scheduled a bail hearing later yesterday for Ding, who was handcuffed and dressed in white prison attire when he was brought to the court.
Ding is accused of offering the sexual services of three women to the referees in exchange for fixing an AFC Cup match between Singapore-based Tampines Rovers and India’s East Bengal on Wednesday last week.
Investigators said referee Ali Sabbagh and his fellow Lebanese assistants Ali Eid and Abdallah Taleb accepted the favor, but were abruptly pulled out before the match started. They are each facing one count of corruption.
If convicted, they face a maximum prison term of five years or a fine of up to S$100,000 (US$81,000), or both, for each count.
Singapore’s Sunday Times said Ding was a soccer tipster in its sister tabloid the New Paper from 2006 to last year. He spends most of his time in Bangkok, but has stakes in a restaurant and nightclub in Singapore, and is known to have a passion for fast luxury cars, it added.
Singapore has a long record of match-fixing scandals. Syndicates from the wealthy state have been blamed by Europol for orchestrating an international network responsible for rigging hundreds of matches worldwide.