Kelong king

SINGAPORE - In less than a month, Singapore's infamous Kelong King may walk out of prison in Finland after serving 12 months of his two-year jail sentence.

But Wilson Raj Perumal is unlikely to return home.

Instead, he may be handed over to the Hungarian authorities to help them with match-fixing investigations there.

Since Wilson Raj's arrest in February last year in Helsinki, the world has seen how Singaporean syndicates have been involved in match-fixing on a global scale.

On Tuesday, a clean-shaven Wilson Raj returned to a Finnish court to appeal against his sentence for manipulating Finland's premier league.

During his trial last July, his lawyer, Mr Pertti Poykko, said that although Wilson Raj admitted to most of the match-fixing allegations, he had denied some of them.

Hence, he is asking for a lighter sentence.

Under Finnish law, Wilson Raj would have to serve about half of his two-year sentence before being eligible for release for good behaviour.

At least two senior Finnishofficers told The New Paper that he is unlikely to return to Singapore soon.

Chief detective Jukka Lakkala told TNP that the Hungarian authorities want Wilson Raj's help in kelong investigations there.

Said Mr Lakkala from Finland's National Bureau of Investigation: "It all depends on the outcome of his appeal hearing.

"After that, maybe sometime in late February or early March, Wilson will be sent to Hungary. We can confirm this.

"He will be in their custody for about one month."

Wilson Raj had bribed as many as 11 football players in the Finnish league with a total of 470,000 euros (S$770,000).

Finnish prosecutor Maija Mononen said: "The appeals hearing will end next Tuesday and the court's decision will come later.

"The Hungarian prosecutors have asked for him. But for what, (that) remains to be seen."

Not unusual

Hungary's request is not unusual, said a spokesman for the International Affairs Department in Finland.

Under Finnish laws, other European Union (EU) countries can ask for Wilson Raj's extradition to help with current investigations, said Mr Juha Korhonnen from the Ministry of Justice.

He said: "So far, no country outside the EU has asked for his extradition.

"If that had been the case, our department would have been alerted as we deal with foreign requests for extradition.

"But member EU countries can ask for Wilson Raj's extradition due to an arrangement our governments have. We are bound by this."

The idea of Wilson Raj going on a "world tour" was explored last year in TNP.

An investigator from football's world governing body Fifa had said many countries wanted to learn more about the scale of match manipulation by syndicates.

In particular, countries like Hungary had named Wilson Raj as a link to match-fixing allegations there.

It is unclear whether Wilson Raj would be liable to prosecution or receive immunity if he cooperates in the countries that have asked for him.

TNP's query to his lawyer was not answered by press time.

Wilson Raj's interviews with Finnish police last year had shed light on how his syndicate operated - he admitted he was one of five shareholders from Slovenia, Bulgaria, Croatia and Hungary who report to alleged Singaporean financier Dan Tan Seet Eng.

Hungarian newspaper Blikk reported late last year that all the fixes in Hungary were allegedly decided in Singapore.

Dr Fazekas Geza, a Hungarian anti-corruption spokesman, declined to give details of the extradition as investigations are ongoing.

Last year, Dr Geza said investigations showed that the Asian-financed syndicate spent between 40,000 eurosand 85,000 euros per match to bribe Hungarian football players and referees.

TNP understands that Wilson Raj was close to two Hungarians arrested by police in a November raid.

This article was first published in The New Paper.