SINGAPORE - Another name has emerged following last week’s arrest of 14 persons in Singapore in connection with global football match-fixing activities.
Well-placed sources told The New Paper recently that Anthony Santia Raj was one of those picked up in the joint raid by the police and Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau.
Yet, it remains unclear if the Singaporean is among the five men being held under the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act.
British match fixing investigator Terry Steans, who had been tracking Santia Raj since early 2011, said his arrest “is only the beginning”.
Mr Steans, 58, a former global investigation coordinator for world football governing body Fifa, said Santia Raj had been active in South and Central America, Africa and the Middle East.
Mr Steans, who now works for SI Sports Intelligence, said: “He is very efficient and a capable operator with good contacts globally, and has easily filled the gap left by Wilson (Raj Perumal).”
Although Santia Raj, who is in his 30s, had been previously named in the overseas probes, he had remained a free man in Singapore until last week.
In March, Santia Raj, who drives a black luxury car, was among a handful of men questioned by the Singapore authorities.
In February, Europol had announced that Singapore- based syndicates had been linked to about 300 football matches globally.
Santia Raj had been seen on a few occasions reporting at the Cantonment Police Complex.
On Thursday, TNP visited his flat in Sembawang.
Sources close to Santia Raj said he had “gone missing” since last week and had not replied to calls made to his mobile phone.
Except for a dog barking from behind the door, no one appeared to be home.
We saw two surveillance cameras outside the flat.
Santia Raj’s name first appeared in media reports in February 2011.
He was said to be the organiser of two international friendly football matches played in Turkey.
Using a fake company, Footy Media International, he allegedly chose the officials for the matches – Bolivia vs Latvia and Bulgaria vs Estonia – which had a total of seven goals, all scored from penalties.
Yet, nobody thought anything of it, Estonian Football Association spokesman Mihkel Uiboleht told TNP in 2011.
He had said: “The way Tony (Santia Raj) approached us in November 2010 was similar to the ways that other match organisers have approached us, via e-mail. There was nothing unusual.
“But as the match date neared, we did some research and it seemed that nobody had ever heard of Footy Media. There was a possibility that the matches would be fixed.”
By then it was too late. Somebody had made a killing of millions of euros on the matches, betting analysis reports had shown.
Said Mr Steans: “Anthony (Santia Raj) is a different person with a low profile but the same reach as Wilson (Raj). His arrest is the result of good police work but it is by no means the end.”
One trait that investigators shared with TNP was that the well-travelled Santia Raj, who occasionally plays golf, was a smooth professional.
He usually made the “official” approach.
His syndicate allegedly targeted financiallystruggling football associations.
Meanwhile, ex-Fifa investigators were beginning to discover the trail left by Singaporeans in Africa.
Mr Steans had investigated and written a report on a Singapore match-fixing syndicate rigging some of the 2010 World Cup internationals friendlies in South Africa.
He had done so while working under former Fifa security head Chris Eaton.
Again, Santia Raj was named.
Equally damning was an e-mail by convicted match fixer Wilson Raj to TNP this year, highlighting Santia Raj’s alleged role in South Africa.
Wilson Raj, 46, had written: “It was Anthony who travelled to South Africa to strike a deal with Safa (South Africa Football Association) to provide referees at our cost.”
Those who knew Santia Raj said that he had been an employee of Wilson Raj’s company Football Four U while it was still in operation.
Their relationship soured after Santia Raj was said to have jumped ship and worked for alleged kelong mastermind Dan Tan Seet Eng, who was also nabbed last week.
In a letter to TNP in December 2011, Wilson Raj wrote: “You will notice I mentioned (that) Anthony Santia Raj betrayed me to a Chinese investor. This Chinese investor is none other than Tan Seet Eng.”
Wilson Raj, who was arrested in Finland following a tip off to Finnish police in February 2011, said he believed Santia Raj and Tan had plotted to get rid of him.
Suspects can be detained without trial
Under the criminal Law (temporary provisions) Bill, suspected criminals can be detained without trial.
Originally conceived to break secret societies, it is usually invoked in syndicated activities – drugs, gambling, loansharking and secret societies – in which there may be little evidence against those at the highest rungs of the syndicate, said lawyer Choo Zheng Xi.
In 2009, former deputy prime minister and home affairs minister Wong Kan Seng told Parliament that it is “only used as a last resort when a serious crime has been committed and a court prosecution is not possible because witnesses are not willing or afraid to testify in court”.
He revealed then that from 2004 to 2008, there were 366 detentions and 272 releases made under the Act.
Persons detained under the Act appear before the criminal Law Advisory committee to plead their case the first time round.
Their detention is subsequently subject to yearly review, said lawyer sunil sudheesan.
Former lawyer Edmund Wong, accused of being a major drug syndicate leader, was a detainee under the Act in 2005.
Loanshark syndicate leader sChua Tiong chye and his brother-in-law Lim Teck Koong were both detainees under the Act in 2001.
Chua is the brother of loanshark king Chua Tiong Tiong, otherwise known as Ah Long San, who was jailed for 10 years in 2001 for bribing nine policemen.
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