Match-fixing case: 4 held without trial

Match-fixing case: 4 held without trial
Financial hardship cannot be an excuse to commit crime, said District Judge Eddy Tham on Monday when sentencing Ricky Foo Kee Kiong, 31, to five months in jail and a $30,000 fine.

SINGAPORE - Four of the 14 suspected international match-fixers arrested last month in an islandwide sting are being detained without trial, Minister for Home Affairs Teo Chee Hean confirmed on Monday.

In a written reply to parliamentary questions, he explained that the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act (CLTPA) is used "as a last resort in cases where accomplices and witnesses dare not testify against criminals in court, for fear of reprisal".

"Like drug trafficking and unlicensed money-lending, illegal soccer match-fixing activities are carried out by organised criminal syndicates with complex and layered structures motivated by financial gain," wrote Mr Teo.

The nature of cross-border illegal activities also makes it more difficult to secure evidence and witnesses, he added.

One of the four detained is believed to be 48-year-old Tan Seet Eng - better known as Dan Tan, whom Interpol has labelled the "leader of the world's most notorious match-fixing syndicate".

Their cases will be reviewed by an independent advisory committee which will then submit its findings to the President, who can cancel, confirm or vary the orders, said Mr Teo.

He also revealed that steps to apprehend the 14 suspects started "well before the media reports in 2011". Then, Tan's name was linked to a major match-fixing scandal in Italy. But he explained progress was hampered as the alleged offences occurred overseas, and the information obtained was sketchy. In February, after the European Union's Europol named Singapore as the base for some of the operations of an extensive match-fixing syndicate, the police and Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) formed a team to work with Interpol.

This culminated in last month's arrest of the 14 suspects. Nine have been released on police bail and one has been issued a police supervision order in lieu of prison detention.

Emphasising the "strict vigilance" against illegal football activities, Mr Teo said in the last decade, CPIB has probed 10 cases of football-related corruption, with six ending in court convictions and three in stern warnings.

On Monday, the Home Affairs Ministry tabled a Bill to extend the CLTPA for another five years, starting Oct 21 next year.

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