7 cellphones found on Ding' at time of arrest

7 cellphones found on Ding' at time of arrest
Eric Ding (left) and his lawyer Hamidul Haq leaving the court yesterday. Ding is accused of match-fixing by bribing officials with prostitutes.

SINGAPORE - The businessman accused of match-fixing by bribing officials with prostitutes had seven mobile phones on him when he was arrested.

Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) officer Tan Keng Ghee said Eric Ding Si Yang told him at the time the phones were used to "contact his girls", without elaborating on who the girls were. Mr Tan was testifying on Thursday about the events leading to Ding's arrest early on April 3.

He disagreed with defence counsel Thong Chee Kun, who had suggested that what Ding actually said was that he "needed different phones for different purposes, and for different people to call him".

Ding, 31, faces three counts of bribing three Fifa-accredited Lebanese officials - referee Ali Sabbagh, 34, and linesmen Ali Eid, 33, and Abdallah Taleb, 37 - to induce them into fixing a future football match.

In June, a court heard that Ding first made contact in Lebanon last year, and allegedly wooed them with promises of cash and sex.

All three pleaded guilty to accepting Ding's bribes and have been deported back to Lebanon after serving their jail sentences.

Mr Tan revealed on Thursday that the officials were under covert CPIB surveillance from the moment they landed in Singapore on April 1, and were being watched when they met Ding at a Subway restaurant near Amara Hotel the next day.

The court also heard in June that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the officials' preference for the girls Ding had promised. But the meeting did not last very long as they left abruptly, suspecting that they were being secretly photographed.

Mr Tan said on Thursday that his officers "denied taking any photographs". He said that "after a few seconds when the parties met up, they walked away", so he suspected they had been alerted to the officers' presence in one way or another.

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