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S’porean businessman part of international match-fixing syndicate: prosecution

Prosecutors in court Tuesday said a businessman arrested for attempted match fixing was part of an international syndicate rigging the sport.

SINGAPORE: Prosecutors on Tuesday said a local businessman arrested for trying to fix a football match by offering free sex to the referees was part of an international syndicate rigging the sport.

Eric Ding Si Yang, 31, was arrested on Saturday for allegedly supplying prostitutes to induce three Lebanese referees to fix an AFC Cup match on April 3 between Singapore-based club Tampines Rovers and India's East Bengal.

"There is evidence to suggest the involvement of international syndicates for the offences committed by the accused," Singapore state prosecutors said in a written submission opposing bail.

But despite prosecution objections, District Judge Kamala Ponnambalam granted the businessman bail, set at S$150,000.

The suspect had his passport confiscated and is required to report regularly to Singapore's anti-corruption agency while on trial.

Investigators said referee Ali Sabbagh and his fellow Lebanese assistants Ali Eid and Abdallah Taleb accepted the sexual favours but were abruptly pulled out before the match started.

The Lebanese are being held in Changi Prison pending their bail hearing on Wednesday.

All four suspects are charged with corruption -- three counts in the case of Ding -- and are the first to be arrested since Singapore came under pressure in February to crack down on match-fixing.

The prosecution said Ding was a "high flight risk" because he has homes in Singapore and Bangkok, where his Thai wife and their daughter live.

"The forfeiture of bail money in the event of an accused's abscondment is a calculated loss which the syndicate can easily recover through illegal soccer betting in merely a single game," the prosecution said.

"Past cases also suggest a strong potential for such syndicates to interfere with the judicial process by getting witnesses to turn on the stand, or even to abscond altogether."

In granting bail, the judge stipulated that Ding must call an investigating officer from the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) daily and report to the agency every Monday.

If convicted, Ding and the Lebanese face a maximum prison term of five years or a fine of up to S$100,000, or both, for each count of corruption.