Football: Two Singaporeans in court in English fixing probe

LONDON - Two men with Singaporean nationality suspected of fixing matches in lower-league English football were remanded in custody by magistrates on Friday.

The men, alleged to be members of a Singapore-based betting syndicate, were among seven people arrested this week in an investigation by the recently-formed National Crime Agency (NCA).

Chann Sankaran, a 33-year-old Singapore national, and Krishna Sanjey Ganeshan, a 43-year-old with dual British and Singapore nationality, were remanded in custody until December 13 by magistrates in Cannock, central England.

Sankaran and Ganeshan have been accused of conspiring to defraud bookmakers by influencing the course of football matches and placing bets on them between November 1 and November 26 this year.

The maximum sentence for this offence is 10 years' imprisonment.

The NCA said their investigation was ongoing.

Thursday's Daily Telegraph newspaper said an undercover investigation by its reporters had triggered the probe by the NCA, Britain's equivalent of the FBI.

No teams in England's lucrative Premier League are believed to be involved in the probe.

Meanwhile a notorious Singaporean football match-fixer denied any links to the alleged plot in England after a suspect named him as his "boss", a report said Friday.

Wilson Raj Perumal, a convicted fixer who is under police protection in Hungary, told Singapore's New Paper he played no part in the scam - although he admitted he had full knowledge of it.

In the videotaped Daily Telegraph sting a Singaporean suspect says he is working for Perumal.

But Perumal, a self-confessed arch-fixer who says he used to collaborate

with alleged Singaporean mastermind Dan Tan, insisted he was not involved.

"He (the suspect) was acting on his own. He was set up," he told the New Paper via email.

"I told him to be very careful (that) this may be a set-up," Perumal wrote, adding the suspect was "keeping me posted on what he was doing even though I never asked for it".

Perumal was jailed for match-fixing in Finland in 2011 and is the reputed whistle-blower who has helped European police uncover hundreds of rigged games.

His fixing career, which started in Singapore in the 1990s, extended to arranging international friendlies - once with a bogus team - and rigging the results.

AFP was not able to contact Perumal for comment. In the Daily Telegraph video, the Singaporean suspect calls him the "king" of match-fixing.

"You go to the net... you search Wilson Raj Perumal... kelong (match-fixing) king," the alleged fixer says. "He's my boss. Everybody in the world knows him."

Reports earlier this year also linked Perumal with a multi-million dollar scandal in Australian state football.

In September, Singaporean authorities arrested four alleged members of a global match-fixing syndicate under a special law allowing indefinite detention without charge.

A source told AFP that businessman Dan Tan, whose full name is Tan Seet Eng, was one of those held in the crackdown.

In February, Europe-wide police agency Europol said it had found evidence of match-fixing in top international football matches and it had uncovered an organised crime syndicate based in Asia that was behind the operation.

The biggest case of fixing in sport in Britain in recent years involved three Pakistan cricketers and a British agent who were jailed in 2011 for spot-fixing during a Test match against hosts England.

The men were involved in pre-arranging no-balls for shadowy South Asian betting rings.