Two face charges in English soccer fixing probe

AFP, LONDON

Sat, Nov 30, 2013 - Page 20

Two men with Singaporean nationality suspected of fixing matches in lower-league English soccer were to appear before magistrates yesterday, a day after they were charged with conspiracy to defraud, prosecutors said.

The men, alleged to be members of a Singapore-based illegal betting syndicate, were among six people arrested this week in an investigation by the recently formed National Crime Agency (NCA).

Chann Sankaran, a 33-year-old Singapore national, and Krishna Sanjey Ganeshan, a 43-year-old with dual British and Singapore nationality, will appear in court in Cannock, England.

A seventh man has been arrested and he and the four other men were bailed on Thursday, the NCA said in a statement.

Sankaran and Ganeshan have been accused of conspiring to defraud bookmakers by influencing the course of soccer matches and placing bets on them between Nov. 1 and Tuesday.

The maximum sentence for the offense is 10 years’ imprisonment.

The NCA added that their investigation was ongoing.

Earlier, the Daily Telegraph newspaper said an undercover investigation by its reporters had triggered the probe by the NCA, Britain’s answer to the FBI.

No teams in England’s lucrative Premier League are believed to be involved in the probe.

A spokesman for the Football Association (FA), the sport’s governing body in England, said: “We have worked closely with the authorities in relation to these allegations. The FA will make no further comment at this time due to ongoing investigations.”

The Football League, which runs the three professional divisions below the Premier League, said they had not been contacted by the police.

“The threat of corruption is something that the Football League and the other football authorities treat with the utmost seriousness,” chief executive Shaun Harvey said. “The integrity of our matches and our competitions is the bedrock of the domestic game.”

Meanwhile, a notorious Singaporean soccer match-fixer denied any links to the alleged plot in England after a suspect named him as his “boss,” a report said yesterday.

Wilson Raj Perumal, a convicted fixer who is under police protection in Hungary, told Singapore’s New Paper that he played no part in the scam — although he admitted he had full knowledge of it.

In the videotaped Daily Telegraph sting, a Singaporean suspect says he is working for Perumal.

However, Perumal, a self-confessed archfixer who says he used to collaborate with alleged Singaporean mastermind Dan Tan, insisted he was not involved.

“He [the suspect] was acting on his own. He was set up,” he told the New Paper via e-mail.

“I told him to be very careful, this may be a set-up,” Perumal wrote, adding that the suspect was “keeping me posted on what he was doing even though I never asked for it.”

Perumal was jailed for match-fixing in Finland in 2011 and is the reputed whistle-blower who has helped European police uncover hundreds of rigged games.

His fixing career, which started in Singapore in the 1990s, extended to arranging international friendlies — once with a bogus team — and rigging the results.

In the Daily Telegraph video, the Singaporean suspect calls him the “king” of match-fixing.

“You go to the Net... you search Wilson Raj Perumal ... kelong [match-fixing] king,” the alleged fixer says. “He’s my boss. Everybody in the world knows him.”

Reports earlier this year also linked Perumal with a multimillion-dollar scandal in Australian state soccer.

In September, Singaporean authorities arrested four alleged members of a global match-fixing syndicate under a special law allowing indefinite detention without charge.

A source said that businessman Dan Tan, whose full name is Tan Seet Eng, was one of those held in the crackdown.

In February, European police agency Europol said it had found evidence of match-fixing in top international soccer matches and it had uncovered an organized crime syndicate based in Asia that was behind the operation.

The biggest case of fixing in sport in Britain in recent years involved three Pakistan cricketers and a British agent who were jailed in 2011 for spot-fixing during a Test match against hosts England.

The four men were involved in pre-arranging no-balls during the internationals for shadowy South Asian betting rings.