Football: Investigations ongoing on rearrested suspected global match-fixer

SINGAPORE - Investigations are ongoing into a Singaporean man accused of leading the world's largest football match-fixing syndicate following his rearrest almost a week after being freed, the interior minister said Wednesday.

"Dan Tan has now been re-arrested and investigations are ongoing. A decision will be made, one way or another, on what is to be done with him," Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam was quoted as saying by local media.

He said that if a decision is made again to invoke a special law that allows for Tan's detention without trial, the government will make sure that "it will set out the grounds in full".

Tan, 51, was rearrested on Tuesday, just six days after the Court of Appeal, the country's highest court, ordered his release saying his prolonged detention was "unlawful" because he did not pose a danger to public safety in the city-state.

The businessman was first arrested in September 2013 and held for more than two years without any charges under the special anti-gangster law.

The ministry of home affairs had invoked the law against Tan after it became difficult to find enough evidence and witnesses to file criminal charges.

Tan's release on November 25 sparked criticism from football's world governing body FIFA and other analysts who said it was a blow to efforts to rid the global sport of corruption.

Police said Tan's rearrest was "for investigations into suspected involvement in criminal activities" but did not give details. But Shanmugam denied that international pressure played a role in Tan's rearrest.

"We do what is right. We don't arrest or release people based on international pressure," the Straits Times quoted him as saying.

Legal sources said that once police completed their investigations, the results will be referred to state prosecutors who will decide on the next step, including pressing charges.

Tan's defence counsel Hamidul Haq told AFP on Wednesday: "I am still at the stage where I am trying to get information (on why he was rearrested). I don't have any new material."

The appeals court said in its ruling that while match-fixing was "reprehensible and should not be condoned", Tan's alleged acts "all took place beyond our shores" and no evidence was presented to show that potential witnesses were being intimidated.

Former FIFA security chief Chris Eaton lauded Tan's rearrest.

A court trial would be the best way to go, said Eaton, now the Qatar-based executive director for sport integrity at the International Center for Sport Security.

"In this way the realities of any case will be open to global scrutiny and therefore helpful guidance on how to prevent match fixers ever hiding in plain sight in Singapore and other countries again," he said.

Asked if Tan can be tried overseas, Eaton noted that Hungary and Italy have built criminal cases against him but said there could be complexities involved in the extradition process.

"For now, the world is interested in how his rearrest evolves within the national investigation and public court systems (of Singapore)," he said.

FIFA said through its spokesman last week that it was "very disappointed" with Tan's release "given the gravity of his past activities relating to match manipulation".

After Tan's first arrest in 2013, the then-Interpol chief Ronald Noble said the Singapore-based ring he allegedly led was the world's "largest and most aggressive match-fixing syndicate, with tentacles reaching every continent".

The home affairs ministry has said that Singapore law enforcement agencies began investigating Tan in 2011 "when he was repeatedly cited in Italian court papers for his involvement in transnational criminal activities in the form of match-fixing".

It described Tan as "the leader and financier of a global criminal syndicate that conducted match-fixing operations out of Singapore".

"Investigations indicated that Tan had an extensive network of people under his control - many of whom were recruited in, and directed out of Singapore," the ministry said.