Indonesian match fixer whistleblower: 'I know too much'

He claims to be sickened by gambling and match-fixing syndicates corrupting Indonesian football.

All he wants now is to restore the reputation of his country's favourite sport.

And this former match fixer intends to do this by exposing his ex-partners to the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI).

Mr Bambang Suryo, also known as Botak or BS, is helping PSSI "map out" match fixers - both foreign and local - who have had a hand in tainting Indonesian football since 2010, he tells The New Paper in an exclusive interview late last month.

And he claims Singaporeans are among them.

Working with the PSSI, Mr Bambang told the Indonesian media on Sept 3 that he aims to "destroy" the stranglehold that gambling and match fixing syndicates have on Indonesian football.

His vow has come at a price: His ex-partners - match fixers and financiers - now consider him a traitor.

In a telephone interview with TNP, Mr Bambang claimed he had received threats from match fixers in Singapore and Malaysia.

"I know too much. They threaten to kill and expose me. But I'm not afraid. Nobody's putting pressure on me to speak up," he said.

His lawyer, Mr Muhammad Isnur, told TNP that his client had been visited and threatened by unknown people at his last residence.

Mr Isnur said: "He (Mr Bambang) has revealed that 18 football matches involving Indonesian teams were fixed. He also named investors from Singapore, Malaysia and China behind fixed matches since 2010."

Following his allegations, the head of the disciplinary committee at PSSI, Mr Ahmad Yulianto, told Indonesian media that Mr Bambang had surrendered four overseas telephone numbers from countries like Malaysia and Ukraine used by the match fixers.

Mr Isnur also urged the police to place Mr Bambang under a witness protection programme and start investigations. Nevertheless, arresting foreigners may not be easy.

Mr Bambang has not been arrested or charged by Indonesian police, according to Mr Isnur.

'Remorseful'

Mr Bambang said he decided to become a whistleblower because he was remorseful about his previous kelong activities.

In interviews with TNP, he identified five Singaporean match fixers and four from Malaysia.

He claimed to have fixed about 20 matches for Singapore kelong syndicates. After agreeing on which teams to target, the Singaporeans would front the money needed to bribe Indonesian match officials and football players.

"The money is hand-delivered to me in Jakarta by a Singaporean who works for a prominent Singaporean in the sports scene," said Mr Bambang. "It can cost as much as 600 million rupiah (S$59,000) for a fix."

He did not disclose the profits from betting on a fixed match in Indonesia's local leagues.

He claimed that some of the Singaporeans are no longer talking to him.

Mr Bambang first emerged on the radar after an audio clip of his chat with other match fixers was aired on Indonesia's Metro TV in December 2014.

His telephone conversation with two Singaporeans was secretly-recorded in early May last year. The trio had discussed fixing several matches in the 2014 Indonesia Super League, a professional football league in Indonesia.

TNP gave the audio clip to Indonesia-based Save Our Football, which passed the clip to the TV station. Exposed, Mr Bambang decided to give his side of the story.

In June this year, he rose to more prominence when his voice appeared in audio recordings talking about football matches in the 2015 South East Asian Games.

It was suggested then that the Indonesia national Under-23 team's semi-final against Thailand and their third-place play-off against Vietnam were fixed by a Malaysian syndicate.

Mr Bambang told TNP that in one of the recordings, a Malaysian called "Das" had assured him of the score before the Indonesia versus Vietnam match was played.

Das told him that Indonesia would concede four goals in the first half and then two or three more in the second half.

Indonesia were four goals down at half-time, but conceded one more to lose 5-0.

Arresting foreigners not easy

A high-level source in the Indonesian police told The New Paper that any information on match fixing activities in Indonesia would be useful.

But arresting foreigners has some challenges.

The source said "dual criminality" must exist if prosecution is to be successful.

What this means is match fixing must be committed in both Indonesia and Singapore, for example, before any arrests may be possible.

There is also the issue of jurisdiction.

At present, Indonesia's law does not possess specific provisions for sports fraud, which some countries have categorised as match fixing.

If a person is wanted for committing sports fraud by another country, Indonesia might not be able to arrest or extradite that person, the source said.

Likewise, Indonesia might not be able to request the extradition of foreign match fixers if both countries' laws differ.

Fixers overheard

The secretly-recorded audio clip shed light on how Singapore match fixers and their counterparts in Indonesia conduct business. Mr Bambang Suryo, also known as Botak, was contacted by a Singaporean in early May 2014.

Below are excerpts of the three-way conversation, translated into English, which The New Paper (TNP) had first acquired from a source.

S'porean 1: Botak, when are the games (Indonesia Super League: ISL)?

Botak (Bambang Suryo): On the 17th (of May 2014). You said on the 5th (of May) you would come to Indonesia. Up till now you're still not here.

S'porean 2: No problem. I can be there in the morning.

The trio discuss the people bribed by the syndicate in the 2014 ISL.

S'porean 1: How many players?

Botak: Seven, seven.

S'porean 2: How many match officials?

Botak: Three.

S'porean 2: Centre, left and right? The two linesmen and referee all included?

Botak: Yes.

S'porean 2: Don't be afraid, Botak. You want money? We want to make money. All can be arranged.

Botak: I want to make money, my friend. Big money, big money.

The discussion zeroes in on the alleged fixed match.

S'porean 2: I don't want to know how small or big is the score. I want to know only (your) team.

Botak: Persik Kediri against Barito.

S'porean 2: Persik verus who?

Botak: Barito. (Inaudible). I have already told you. On the 19th (of May 2014), it's Persita versus (Inaudible).

Mr Bambang recently told TNP the planned fix was not executed.


This article was first published on September 14, 2015.
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