Wife of S'pore man charged with match-fixing recognises him in news clip

Wife of S'pore man charged with match-fixing recognises him in news clip

Instantly recognising the man in the video clip, she cupped her mouth with her right hand and said: "Ya, it's my husband."

The clip showed a man in handcuffs sitting outside a courtroom in Moldova, in eastern Europe.

The woman, 33, confirmed in her Woodlands flat last week that the man is her husband Titani Periasamy, 38.

The former Clementi Khalsa midfielder and another Singaporean were arrested on March 19 for trying to bribe Moldova Football Federation officials with 50,000 euros (S$75,000) for their Under-21 team to lose to Belgium's Under-21 side by three goals.

They were charged on March 21. Moldova's ProTV Chisinau station had aired footage of the arraignment in court.

Titani's wife, who spoke to The New Paper on condition of anonymity, said: "He left Singapore clean-shaven. Now look at him - he looks like an old man. He still has the (red) prayer string I tied for him (on his right wrist)."

The clip showed Titani covering his face with his handcuffed wrists when a journalist approached him for comment.

He told the reporter: "I don't want means I don't want. Sorry."

His identity was first confirmed on March 24 by Mr Adrian Popenco, a prosecutor from Moldova's National Anti-Corruption Center.

He told TNP that the accused could be remanded for 40 to 50 days during investigations.

The other accused was identified as Phua Boon Keong, 42.

When TNP went to Phua's Sembawang flat last Friday, his mother-in-law said he was "overseas".

When she was shown a screen grab of Phua in the Moldovan court, she confirmed that it was her son.

When shown the same screen grab, Phua's wife said: "I don't know... He looks like him (her husband)."

She later admitted that someone had sent her a message to tell her of Phua's arrest in Moldova.

Titani left his Woodlands home in July last year to work for a marine company, his wife said.

The couple have been married for eight years and have two children - a son, seven, and a daughter, six.

Titani called home only once, on March 14 this year, to wish his son a happy birthday, his wife said.

"He refused to tell me anything. He spoke to my son... And that was it. We had an argument and he just put the phone down."

SURPRISED BY ARREST

She was surprised by his arrest and startled when told that Titani had held such positions as director, secretary and manager in 30 registered companies.

She did not know what to tell her children other than to say that their father is working overseas.

She said Titani loved playing with the children.

"My son went through a stressful period (in Titani's absence) because he is very close to his father."

She is unsure how to break the news to Titani's mother, who is a heart patient.

TNP learnt of his other brushes with the law and his links with convicted Singaporean match-fixer Wilson Raj Perumal. (See report right.)

Sources told TNP that Titani, who is fluent in Italian, was jailed in Italy from 2000 to 2006 for drug trafficking.

About three years ago, he was found guilty of voluntarily causing hurt and spent three months in jail in Singapore.

His wife is worried about what his arrest could mean for their family.

Both men can be jailed up to 10 years each if found guilty of match-fixing.

His wife said: "I want my marriage, I want my kids to have a father, but at the same time, I'm not a saint to tolerate so much from him.

"I think this is the last straw."

KELONG CRACKDOWN

In the last few years, foreign and local law enforcement agencies have arrested the men, including Singaporeans, behind global match-fixing activities.

In 2009, the Syrian authorities arrested two Singaporeans who attempted to bribe players from Syrian football club Tishreen SC.

Two years later, fugitive Wilson Raj Perumal, then 46, was detained at a Finnish airport with forged travel documents.

Investigations revealed he had fixed about 30 matches in the Finnish football league between 2008 and 2011, bribing 11 footballers with about 470,000 euros .

The convicted match-fixer was extradited to Hungary in 2012 as a prosecution witness.

From there, he continued to order his lieutenants to fix matches in the UK and Australia.

One of them, Singaporean Chann Sankaran, was jailed five years in June last year for trying to fix the UK Conference League in late 2013.

He was exposed by undercover operatives from SI Sports Intelligence.

The ploy was featured in the book Foul! The Inside Story of Singapore Match Fixers.

In December 2011, Singaporean Dan Tan Seet Eng was named for allegedly masterminding fixed matches in Italy's Serie A and Serie B. He was also charged in absentia by a Hungarian court in May 2013 for his alleged role in fixing matches there.

Tan and 13 others were later arrested by the Singapore authorities in September 2013. He remains in detention without trial.

The latest Singaporean to be jailed was Eric Ding Si Yang, 32.

In January this year, the convicted match-fixer failed in his appeal and had his jail term increased from three years to five years for enticing three Lebanese referees to fix matches.

Titani close to fugitive Wilson Raj

Titani Periasamy and convicted match-fixer Wilson Raj Perumal, 49, were associates when it came to betting on football matches.

Three sources gave an insight into their friendship.

As a teenager, Titani had run away from a boys' home and sought refuge in Wilson Raj's family flat because he trusted Wilson Raj, one source said.

Wilson Raj, who was arrested in Finland for match-fixing and passport forgery in 2011 and remains a fugitive after fleeing Singapore in 2010, trusted Titani.

Now under Hungarian custody, Wilson Raj taught Titani how to use online gambling sites, sources said.

He later made Titani his "sole agent" to place bets on foreign football matches because Titani had a lucky streak and usually won money for him.

His role included collecting bets and distributing payments to bettors.

On a few occasions, Titani delivered huge amounts of cash to unknown persons on Wilson Raj's behalf.

But his luck ran out when he lost "a few million dollars" of Wilson Raj's money in a European football match in late 2009, sources said.

In 2010, Wilson Raj kept a low profile after fleeing Singapore to escape a five-year jail term for injuring an auxiliary police officer.

But sources believed the pair kept in touch.

When Wilson Raj was extradited to Hungary to help in match-fixing investigations after serving a two-year sentence in Finland, he spoke to Titani frequently via Skype.

zaihan@sph.com


This article was first published on Mar 31, 2015.
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