Surveillance, intel basis for arresting Ding: CPIB officer

SINGAPORE - The match-fixing case against businessman Eric Ding Si Yang and three Lebanese officials was built on intelligence gathering and surveillance, a district court heard on Wednesday.

There was no first information report, which is the first report made to the authorities about an alleged crime.

This emerged when Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) senior special investigator Jeffrey Tan was being cross-examined by the defence on what was the basis for arresting Ding.

Ding, 31, is facing three charges in a long-running trial for allegedly bribing three Lebanese Fifa-accredited officials with prostitutes when they were in Singapore on April 3 last year, in return for fixing an unidentified future match.

Mr Tan said he was unaware of the extent of surveillance and intelligence gathering that went on because these were carried out by his colleagues in the intelligence department.

He took over as lead investigation officer for the case only on April 4 last year - a day after Ding's arrest.

Hence, he also did not know the basis of Ding's arrest at the time he was brought in, he told the court.

"When I was put in charge I did not approach any one of them to ask the basis because it is considered classified," he said.

Defence counsel Thong Chee Kun suggested on Wednesday that no one could have fingered Ding as a suspect because he was the first person to be arrested, even before the football officials and prostitutes.

But in an earlier session of Ding's trial last year, the court heard that the three Lebanese officials were under covert CPIB surveillance from the moment they landed in Singapore on April 1, 2013. They were also being watched when they met Ding at a Subway restaurant near Amara Hotel the following day. The trio were staying at the hotel.

The apparent purpose of this meeting was to discuss the type of girls the officials preferred. But the four abruptly left minutes later as they suspected that they were being secretly photographed.

Ding first made contact with one of the officials in Lebanon in 2012, after which he allegedly wooed them with promises of cash and sex.

The Lebanese men pleaded guilty in June last year to accepting bribes, and were deported after serving their jail sentences.

On Wednesday, another point raised by the defence was that Ding was upfront with investigators from the moment he was arrested. Ding had said he was a "freelance journalist doing some football-related research" when he was arrested, his lawyer said.

Mr Tan said he was informed of this by his colleague who took Ding's statement.

Ding's claims regarding his job and what he was doing form the crux of his defence.

He was a freelance writer for the Today freesheet 10 years ago, and a freelance English Premier League tipster for The New Paper from 2006 to May 2012.

His lawyer, Mr Thong, also pointed out that the three prostitutes and their mamasan Nah Su Yin were unable to recognise Ding at an identification parade in CPIB.

Neither was Ding able to identify them, he added.

Responding, Mr Tan said: "I was not there but from what I could recall from what I read from their statements, they couldn't identify him."

waltsim@sph.com.sg

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