Ex-footballer pleads guilty

Businessman S. Thanasegar.

SINGAPORE - They offered the referee RM15,000 (S$5,600) for a big LionsXII win.

Thinking the match was safely fixed, one of them then bet thousands of dollars with Singapore Pools.

If their plan had gone through, the match-fixers would have pocketed more than $20,000 from Singapore Pools.

But Thanasegar S Sinnaiah and his accomplices were arrested before the football match.

The referee, Shokri Nor, was also found out and replaced at the last minute.

While out on bail, Thanasegar, 40, continued to defy the law and fled Singapore while hiding in the boot of a car.

Yesterday, the Malaysian and former footballer appeared in court and pleaded guilty to abetting a conspiracy to fix the Malaysian Super League (MSL) match between the LionsXII and Sarawak FA in May 2012.

He also admitted to two charges of abetting a conspiracy to cheat Singapore Pools by betting on the fixed match and one count of failing to present his passport when leaving Singapore. Four other charges were taken into consideration.

His accomplice, Selvarajan Letchuman, 52, a Singaporean, has also been nabbed and his case is pending.

The referee, Shokri, 50, a Malaysian and former policeman, is still on the run. (See report above.)

The court heard that Thanasegar, who used to play for the Kedah state team, and Shokri were from the same hometown in Malaysia. Thanasegar came to know Selvarajan through mutual friends in 1997.

On May 18, 2012, Selvarajan phoned Thanasegar, who was then in Kedah, and asked for tips for the LionsXII-Sarawak MSL game that was to take place four days later in Singapore at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

After Thanasegar told him that Shokri was the referee, Selvarajan arranged for the three of them to meet at a hotel room in Penang the next day.

That was where Selvarajan told Shokri that the LionsXII must beat Sarawak by at least three goals.

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He advised the referee to award penalties to make it a high-scoring match and to issue yellow and red cards to the Sarawak players.

Selvarajan also said he would be betting on the match with Singapore Pools and Shokri would stand to earn RM15,000 from the payout. Shokri agreed.

On May 22, just hours before kick-off, Selvarajan placed six bets at two Singapore Pool outlets. One of them was a $5,000 bet that the LionsXII would win by at least two goals, which would have paid out $10,500.

But the trio were arrested before the match and the fix was not carried out.

The game ended in a 3-0 win for LionsXII.

That same week, Thanasegar and Shokri were hauled to court, charged and offered $50,000 bail.

Sometime in July 2012, while out on bail, Shokri told Thanasegar that he was going to leave Singapore illegally and asked if he wanted to abscond as well. That same night, Shokri fled to Johor Baru.

He then phoned Thanasegar and instructed him to go to the field behind the hotel, where Thanasegar was staying, at midnight. There, Thanasegar met an unknown man who drove him to a dark and secluded alley in a black Nissan.

Thanasegar then climbed into the boot and lay in a curled up position as the car went through customs.

When he got out about 20 minutes later, he was in Johor Baru.

As a result, the Singaporean man who posted bail for the two Malaysians had the $100,000 forfeited in September 2012.

In August last year, Thanasegar was arrested again.

It is not known how or where he was nabbed but a Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau spokesman said then that the "successful arrest was with the assistance of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission".

Thanasegar, who was not offered bail, is expected to be back in court on Feb 17.

For abetting a conspiracy to fix a football match, he could face up to five years' jail and/or a maximum fine of $100,000.

For each charge of abetting a conspiracy to cheat Singapore Pools by betting on the fixed match, he faces up to 10 years' jail and a fine.

For failing to present his passport to an immigration officer when leaving Singapore, he faces six months' jail, a fine of up to $1,000 or both.


This article was first published on January 20, 2015.
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