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Hunted, yet hunting for investors

Two Malaysians, who jumped bail after being charged with 'kelong' in Singapore, appear to be 'active' in Kuala Lumpur. -TNP
Zaihan Mohamed Yusof

Wed, Oct 31, 2012
The New Paper

Former state and national footballer, S. Thanasegar, (left) and part-time referee, Shokri Nor, (right).

Run. Hide. Keep a low profile.

You would think these are steps a fugitive normally takes when evading the law.

But not Thanasegar S. Sinnaiah and Shokri Nor - two Malaysians who have been charged with conspiring to fix the result of the Singapore LionsXII's Malaysian Super League match against Sarawak FA on May 22.

The duo failed to appear in court on Aug 7.

As a result, warrants of arrest were issued in their names.

Sources now say that Thanasegar, 38, has been "active" in Malaysia.

He has been asking for "funds and investors" to finance his business.

While on the run, Thanasegar, a former Kedah state football player, reportedly met a man in Kuala Lumpur from the Singapore football scene.

Said a Malaysia-based source who declined to be named: "Thana has been trying to sell his stake in a Malaysian football club for RM1.2 million (S$500,000). This is, of course, a silent partner arrangement.

"He used to have a financial supporter from Kedah, a Chinese man, but their relationship ended due to some disagreement.

"Thana is looking to Singapore (for investors) only because he still has supporters there."

Granted, some may find this development hard to believe.

But the circumstances appear no less incredible than when The New Paper (TNP) first broke the story that Thanasegar and Shokri, 47, a part-time referee, had escaped to Malaysia, two weeks before their court appearances.

It had all started with a rumour - later verified by four sources - that the men were back in Malaysia.

Another source in Singapore has backed up claims that Thanasegar, who shuttles between KL and Penang, is looking for an investor.

Said the source who spoke to TNP in September: "Thana and Shokri met the Singaporean at a club in Singapore, that's how they came to know each other.

"Since Thana is on the run, he can't control his football club openly.

So that's why he wants the Singaporean to take over."

It's not clear if the Singaporean has agreed to the deal.

But why would Thana be involved in a Malaysian football club?

Betting habit

The Singaporean source said it was due to his betting habit.

Added the source: "(Thanasegar) makes his money from behind the scenes - betting on the games (played by his football club) and using his winnings to partially support the management."

The Malaysia-based source also offered other reasons: "Thanasegar wants to take over the Premier League and Presidents' Cup.

"With stronger financial backing, he would have 'flexibility' in controlling some teams within the leagues," said the source.

He added: "Losing $100,000 (as bail money) is no big deal.'' TNP previously reported that a Singaporean, Mr Sumit Singh, had paid $50,000 each for Thanasegar's and Shokri's bail.

Mr Singh, who is self-employed, had said the money was not his and that he did not know the two accused.

The $100,000 bail money has since been forfeited after the duo absconded. Attempts to contact Thanasegar and Shokri proved fruitless.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission told TNP that it had "no information to share" due to ongoing investigations.

What we know about Thanasegar may be limited.

He visited Indonesia, 13 days before he was arrested, said an anti-corruption investigator, John.

TNP has learnt that Thanasegar was probably not alone.

He had travelling buddies, judging from a compilation of passport details shown to TNP.

The other men are two Malaysians and a Singaporean.

They had visited Indonesia frequently between Feb 3 and May 20 this year.

 zaihan@sph.com.sg

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