He crows and gets caught

He crows and gets caught

Was Chann Sankaran an innocent bystander "set up" by UK newspaper Daily Telegraph, as suggested by Wilson Raj Perumal?

Or did Chann, who was convicted of conspiracy to commit bribery along with two others in the UK on Tuesday, play a more sinister role in global match fixing?

A series of text messages acquired by The New Paper last year suggest the latter.

The SMSes indicate that Chann, 33, was involved in attempts at fixing two matches in the Conference League in England last November.

One of his messages to a potential "investor" read: "Even I have a team in London also the pricing for the team to loss (sic) is about 60K pound, so about Singapore dollars is about $130K. Ur betting must be about $250k SG dollars."

Chann, a known associate of convicted match fixer Wilson Raj, was not aware that the "investor" was an undercover anti-corruption officer.

Chann and his syndicate had been cultivating the "investor" for more than six months when he was detained after a UK sting operation last November.

The "investor" - an investigator from Australia-based SI Sports Intelligence (SI) - had befriended Chann on Facebook.

Their conversations became more revealing when Chann, who used to own a sports and events company, started trusting the "investor".

He boasted that his syndicate had connections to national football teams and was able to fix international friendly matches and even World Cup qualifiers for the right price.

Chann, a delivery assistant who lived with his sister's family in Hougang, had previously been jailed for about two years for credit card fraud.

He told the "investor" of his travel plans in a text message: "I can come around 20 or 21 June (2013) to London to meet up with U bro. So we just need to bring about 100K euro to the place where the game is taking place."

Wilson Raj, who has denied involvement with Chann, said the latter visited the UK three times to introduce football players to the "investor".

Wilson Raj told TNP in an e-mail last November: "Chann was broke, so he seized this opportunity when the agent promised to pass him £60,000 to bet in the matches he could fix.

"In my opinion, Chann has never fixed a single match in all his life."

But Wilson Raj was bending the truth.

Chann's messages to the "investor" in October last year suggested that Wilson Raj was complicit in the attempted fix.

"Bro, can I ask Wilson to call U now?" Chann wrote to the "investor" on Oct 1 last year.

By mid-October, Wilson Raj had made direct contact with the "investor", as revealed in detail in Foul! The Inside Story Of Singapore Match Fixers, a book about the rise of Singapore kelong syndicates on the global football stage. (See report above.)

"I think I spoke to Sam (as Chann was referred to in the book for legal reasons) and he was telling me for several months that he's got some guy who is a little keen to invest and stuff," Wilson Raj told the "investor".

He claimed that Chann was his runner who performed the paperwork for the syndicate.

"I don't literally get involved, trust me," Wilson Raj told the SI undercover investigator in a secretly recorded Skype conversation.

Chann had also disclosed his links to Wilson Raj by calling him "boss" in another secretly recorded video clip in the UK that was later published on the Daily Telegraph website.

ROPED IN

SI explained that the UK newspaper was roped in about two weeks before the sting operation.

Information gathered in their probe into the Singapore-based syndicate's activities in the UK was later handed over to the authorities there.

In the video clip, Chann explained to an undercover investigator how much it would cost to bribe football players in the Conference League.

He and six others were arrested in an anti-kelong blitz in late November last year.

He is awaiting sentencing after being convicted together with Krishna Sanjey Ganeshan, 43, and footballer Michael Boateng, 22, following a trial at Birmingham Crown Court.

As for Chann's fate after serving his sentence, a Singapore police spokesman said yesterday: "The Singapore authorities are awaiting further information from our UK counterparts on their investigation findings before we can assess further."

The Singapore authorities are awaiting further information from our UK counterparts on their investigation findings before we can assess further.


This article was first published on June 21, 2014.
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