Interpol chief slams critics of S'pore's fight against match-fixers

Interpol chief slams critics of S'pore's fight against match-fixers
Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs Masagos Zulkifli (left) and Mr Noble at the topping-out ceremony of the Interpol Global Complex for Innovation.

SINGAPORE - INTERPOL chief Ronald K. Noble has defended Singapore's efforts in fighting match-fixing, saying critics like Canadian investigative journalist Declan Hill should "simply open their eyes and look at the facts".

Mr Hill alleged in a BBC radio report last Friday that the Singapore authorities had offered "protection" to suspected global match-fixing syndicate ringleader Dan Tan.

The police arrested Tan, 48, last Tuesday as well as 13 other Singaporeans who are also believed to be involved in the syndicate.

Mr Hill claimed that the Government had known about the syndicate's activities for "at least 20 years", but had "tolerated them".

Mr Noble, who attended the topping-out ceremony of the Interpol Global Complex for Innovation here on Monday, dismissed those claims.

"Those who do not recognise the commitment and resources that Singapore has devoted to identifying those believed to be responsible for match-fixing cases, or who seek publicity simply by criticising every positive development that occurs in fighting match-fixing, should simply open their eyes and look at the facts," he said in a speech at the event.

Speaking later to reporters, Mr Noble said the arrests were significant because Tan's match-fixing syndicate is "considered the world's largest and most aggressive", with "tentacles reaching in every continent".

Tan's ring is said to have rigged over 150 football matches in countries including Italy, Hungary, Finland and Nigeria.

The arrests were an outcome of successful cooperation between Singapore and Interpol's Global Anti-Match-fixing Task Force, Mr Noble added.

He told The Straits Times that the remarks in his speech were in reference to Mr Hill's allegations.

He praised Mr Hill for writing a "great book" exposing global match-fixing crime syndicates, in a reference to the journalist's book, The Fix: Football And Organised Crime, published in 2008.

But Mr Noble added that "ever since that book, it seems that all he can do is just criticise, criticise, criticise and not recognise that it's different to write an article where you accuse someone as compared to bringing charges against him".

"I wish he would tell the story from both sides," added Mr Noble.

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