|Singaporean who peddled prostitutes to football referees suspected to be part of global syndicate
Prosecutors in Singapore told a court today that a local businessman arrested for trying to fix a football match by providing the sexual services of women to the referees was part of an international syndicate rigging the sport.
Eric Ding Si Yang, 31, was arrested on Saturday for allegedly supplying prostitutes to induce three Lebanese referees to fix an AFC Cup match on April 3 between Singapore-based club Tampines Rovers and India's East Bengal, AFP reports.
“There is evidence to suggest the involvement of international syndicates for the offences committed by the accused,'' Singapore state prosecutors said in a written submission opposing bail.
But district judge Kamala Ponnambalam granted the businessman bail, set at S$150,000 (US$121,000).
Singapore has a long history of match fixing, and syndicates from the wealthy Southeast Asian island have been blamed by European police for orchestrating an international network responsible for rigging hundreds of games worldwide.
The suspect has been described by local media as a nightclub owner who drives an Aston Martin sports car.
His passport was confiscated and was required to report regularly to Singapore's anti-corruption agency while on trial.
Investigators said referee Ali Sabbagh and his fellow Lebanese assistants Ali Eid and Abdallah Taleb accepted the sexual favors but were abruptly pulled out before the match started.
The Lebanese are being held in suburban Changi Prison pending their bail hearing on Wednesday.
All four suspects are charged with corruption – three counts in the case of Ding –
and are the first to be arrested since Singapore came under pressure in February to crack down on match-fixing.
The prosecution said Ding was a “high flight risk’’ because he has homes in Singapore and Bangkok, where his Thai wife and their daughter live.
“The forfeiture of bail money in the event of an accused's abscondment is a calculated loss which the syndicate can easily recover through illegal soccer betting in merely a single game,’’ the prosecution said.
“Past cases also suggest a strong potential for such syndicates to interfere with the judicial process by getting witnesses to turn on the stand, or even to abscond altogether.''
In granting bail, the judge stipulated that Ding must call an investigating officer from the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau daily and report to the agency every Monday.
If convicted, Ding and the Lebanese 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 of corruption.
Singapore's Sunday Times said Ding was a football tipster for its sister tabloid The New Paper, which is popular among sports fans, from 2006 to 2012.
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.