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He made millions fixing 33 games in 2 years

As heads roll in Italy's football match-rigging saga, Spore's alleged kelong king Dan Tan gets fingered in investigation papers. -TNP
Dilenjit Singh and Zaihan Mohamed Yusof

Sat, Jun 16, 2012
The New Paper

Lazio's Francelino Matuzalem celebrating a goal with his teammates during the match between Lecce and Lazio in April this year. A match between the two teams on May 22, 2011, was found to have been rigged; (insert) Dan Tan Seet Eng.

He's the "leader" and "organiser" of a global match-fixing syndicate that has plagued Italian football.

That's how Italian court papers describe Singaporean Dan Tan Seet Eng, 47, in an ongoing investigation into match-rigging.

The New Paper obtained the latest edition of the Cremona investigation papers, which chronicle Tan's alleged involvement in the rigging of 33 matches in Italy's top two leagues, Serie A and Serie B, over the last two years.

For the first time, the syndicate's operations in Italy have been described in great detail, following the money trail from Tan and his accomplices to the players and officials who fixed the games.

As much as two million euros ($3.2million) was bet on one of the rigged matches through the use of Asian betting websites.

Tan first came to prominence when a German magazine described him as the financier of a syndicate which counted fellow Singaporean Wilson Raj Perumal as a member.

TNP understands that security officials from world football governing body Fifa have been tracking Tan's operations around the world for some time.

Described by Fifa's former head of security, Mr Chris Eaton, as the most significant match-fixing investigation in the sport, Operation Last Bet has implicated high-profile figures in Italian football.

Two former Italian internationals, Lazio idol Giuseppe Signori and ex-Atalanta player Cristiano Doni, have been incriminated in the scandal.

Last month, in the latest round of the ongoing operation, the residence of Antonio Conte, manager of Serie A champions Juventus, was searched. And Azzurri left-back Domenico Criscito was left out of Italy's Euro 2012 squad.

But the biggest fish in the kelong investigation - Tan - has yet to be reeled in.

Cremona's chief investigator, Mr Sergio Lo Presti, previously told TNP that an Interpol arrest warrant has been issued for the Singaporean.

Explaining Tan's significance to investigations, a Fifa investigator, who wanted to be known only as John, said: "Although there have been significant arrests, we believe that match-fixing will continue as long as persons such as Dan Tan, who finance these operations, are not identified and dealt with."

Tan isn't the only Singaporean wanted in connection with match-fixing in Italy.

Court papers have revealed the alleged involvement of his runners, Choo Beng Huat and Pho Hock Kheng.

The Cremona Investigation papers show that Choo visited Italy at least 16 times between May 2009 and last November to meet members of the match-rigging syndicate, or as Tan's cash courier.

Pho, too, served as Tan's runner and made frequent trips to Italy, sometimes with his boss.

Investigating magistrate Guido Salvini said he was sure that on a trip to Milan on Nov 4 last year, Choo delivered something on behalf of the syndicate - possibly "a sum of money hidden in a container (in his luggage) to fund illegal activities".

When TNP contacted Choo last December, he called the allegations "all nonsense" and insisted that it was a case of mistaken identity.

He said: "I'm not interested in football. I'm a poor man and I have not been to Italy recently. A long time ago, I went there to visit my sister-in-law."

On occasions when Tan did not use his runners to deliver money, he used money transfer services to make payments for the rigged football matches, the court documents said.

Two members of his syndicate created a company in Panama in May 2010 called Clewer Overseas S.A. for the illicit purpose of receiving and distributing funds relating to the syndicate's match-rigging efforts.

According to the documents, the company allegedly received money transferred from Raffles Money Change from Tan and his associates in two tranches - 289,905 euros in November 2010 and 434,905 euros in March last year.

The monies were illegal betting profits from the manipulation of matches, particularly the game between Brescia and Lecce played on Feb 27 last year.

In an attempt to "clean up" the funds to prevent the detection of their movement and the beneficiaries, the money was redirected to the personal accounts of Italian syndicate members, who served as recruiters of, and liaison for, corrupt players.

Serie A game

Of all the fixes and attempted fixes chronicled in the Cremona investigation papers, one stands out for its importance and vivid detail of Tan's alleged match-rigging processes.

The match in question was a Serie A fixture on May 22 last year, in which Lazio beat Lecce 4-2.

An hour before the match kicked off, Tan is alleged to have spoken to and exchanged text messages with others in the syndicate, before a total of 600,000 euros was paid out to the complicit players to carry out the fix.

Half of this sum came from Tan, the syndicate's chief financier, and the other half from a group within the organisation called the Hungarians.

With the fix in place, Tan bet two million euros on Asian betting websites that the match would have four or more goals.

Although his exact winnings are not known, it is certainly in the millions.

The court papers reveal that one afternoon in May, after the successful fixing of the Lazio-Lecce match, members of the syndicate felt that "they had arrived at the top", having manipulated an Italian Serie A match "under the leadership of Boss (Tan)".

TNP understands that despite the Interpol arrest warrant, Tan remains at large.

A Singapore police spokesman said they are working with the Italian authorities, but declined to elaborate.

TNP made several unsuccessful attempts last week to speak to Tan at his home or on the phone.

In an interview with TNP last August, Tan admitted to knowing Wilson Raj, albeit not personally, and that his involvement in Exclusive Sports came about through a friend who asked him to invest in the company.

Exclusive Sports is a company said to have been used as a front for match-fixing.

He said: "Maybe Wilson or Exclusive Sports was not happy with me for pulling out of the venture. Maybe that's why he had named me to investigators."

However, the Cremona investigation papers reveal that at the time of his arrest in Finland, Wilson Raj was with three Hungarians - Zoltan Kenesei, Latzslo Schultz and Balazs Polyak.

Kenesei and Schultz have now been implicated in the Cremona investigation, with Kenesei described as an executive member of Tan's syndicate and the head of the Hungarians.

So, notwithstanding Tan's protestations of innocence, this latest revelation seems to indicate his clear links to Wilson Raj.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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