Singaporean match-fixer: $680k to fix World Cup match

Singaporean match-fixer: $680k to fix World Cup match

They had been friends on Facebook for barely a month.

But in their first face-to-face meeting in June last year, Chann Sankaran quickly got down to business with his "friend", who he thought was an interested party.

The 33-year-old Singaporean openly shared details of his kelong syndicate's operation with the "investor", who was actually an undercover match-fixing investigator from SI Sports Intelligence (SI).

"(I have) been doing (this for) about eight to nine years," Chann told the man.

"Most of the time, we pay them good, they (football players) will deliver what we want. Their salary is 3,000 euros (S$5,000) a month. For one match, I offer them 7,000 euros."

Unknown to Chann, their hour-long meeting in a London hotel was secretly being filmed by SI operatives.

The Australia-based SI, a private sector anti-fraud agency, shared the exclusive video footage with The New Paper.

Chann was sentenced to five years' jail, along with another Singaporean man, Krishna Ganeshan, on June 5 this year for trying to fix matches in England's Conference League.

Early in the conversation, Chann boasted about the matches his syndicate could fix.

He said: "On Sunday... Saturday, I got a match in Australia. On the 28 of this month (last June), I got a match. After this match, I got Under-20 World Cup (in July)... In London, I got two teams."

During the conversation, Chann claimed that teams like Mali, in West Africa, and Malta, in the Mediterranean, as well as "most of the African teams" were in his syndicate.

WILSON RAJ MY BOSS

Chann, who was then a delivery assistant in Singapore, did not hide his links to convicted Singaporean match fixer Wilson Raj Perumal, who was a prosecution witness in Hungary's match-fixing trials at the time.

In the video clip, he refers to Wilson Raj, 48, as his "boss".

He said: "You can go to Google and check 'Wilson Raj Perumal'... In Hungary, he is the main boss... Once he plan (sic) already, we do the job."

He revealed that one of his syndicate's methods was to buy football clubs so they could control the players and that Wilson Raj was an owner of an Australian club.

"Once you own that club, the players must all listen to you. (The players are told) if you do for us, you'll earn A$$5,000 (S$5,900) per game."

Though Wilson Raj said he was aware of Chann's activities, he denied being involved in any wrongdoing, saying this in an e-mail to TNP last November.

Wilson Raj is being held in Finnish custody after his arrest on April 16 for immigration offences.

Chann told the "investor" in the meeting about how the syndicate used corrupt agents, who act as intermediaries for footballers, to fix matches.

When a match is fixed, he said that his syndicate would tell the compromised players not to concede a goal in the first 20 minutes to allow bets to be made with illegal bookies.

"This will give time for the investor to bet," Chann said. "In 15 minutes, half a million you can bet already."

He claimed he had previously moved 100,000 euros to Africa to pay off footballers there.

He also claimed that it would cost an investor about 400,000 euros to fix a single World Cup match - of which 100,000 euros would be used as bribes and the rest for betting purposes.

It is not clear in the video clip if Chann was referring to an Under-20 World Cup match or a World Cup 2014 match.

It is also unclear if he was referring to a World Cup qualifier or a World Cup final match.

The June 2013 meeting was followed by more meetings and correspondences between Chann and SI investigators.

PUNISHING FIXERS

SI knew that it was dealing with a serious match-fixing threat.

In late November last year, Chann and six others were arrested in the UK after a sting operation by the authorities there.

Mr Terry Steans, an SI investigator, said the arrests were made possible with information which SI started gathering in January 2012. The information from its probe was handed over to the UK police last November.

"It sends a strong message that the UK is serious about punishing match fixers who arrive to corrupt the game in our country," said the Briton.

His partner, Mr Michael Pride, was glad that SI's objective was finally achieved.

The SI director of operations said: "(The convictions) put a major dent in a key syndicate's global match-fixing operations."

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