Interpol: 6 arrested in Singapore linked to Europe

Six of the 14 people arrested in Singapore in what is being

called a major breakthrough in the fight against soccer corruption

are linked to ongoing European investigations, Interpol said

Thursday.

The global network’s suspected mastermind was among the 12 men

and two women taken into custody in police raids lasting 12 hours

across Singapore, ending early Tuesday.

Interpol, the police body based in Lyon, France, said in a

statement to The Associated Press, that all 14 of those arrested

are Singaporean nationals.

The arrests are of ”extraordinary” significance and took down

”the world’s largest match-fixing operation based in Singapore,”

Interpol secretary general Ronald Noble said in an interview with

Associated Press Television News.

”The Singaporeans have been criticized, unfairly I believe, for

not being serious about fighting match-fixing,” Noble said on a

visit to Ukraine. ”In fact, they never received the evidence of

match-fixing that would have allowed them to either prosecute in

their own country or extradite individuals.

”So what the Singaporeans did was they conducted their own

investigation, working with Interpol, cooperating with (Interpol)

member countries, from Italy, Hungary, Germany, Finland, et cetera.

And they made their own investigations, targeted people for arrest

who were engaged in match-fixing and made the arrests.”

He later added: ”What’s significant is that the investigation

in Singapore didn’t just focus on the cases we already knew about

originating out of Europe but also additional cases.”

In Italy, the prosecutor leading an inquiry into international

match-fixing said he would like to question the suspected

ringleader.

”It’s big news,” Cremona prosecutor Roberto Di Martino told

the AP. ”It shows that our inquiry means something on an

international level.

”Now we need to explore the diplomatic channels to see what we

can do,” Di Martino added. ”I’m not sure if our treaties permit

(extradition). Plus, these arrests appear to also be linked to

their (Singapore’s) own investigation.”

A high-level police official told the AP that those arrested

include Tan Seet Eng, widely known as Dan Tan. The official spoke

on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss

the detention publicly. Prosecutors in Italy have accused Tan of

coordinating a global crime syndicate that made millions of dollars

betting on rigged Italian matches and other games across the

world.

Earlier this year, Europol, the European Union police liaison

agency, said it reviewed 680 suspicious recent cases of

match-fixing, including some World Cup games.

FIFA said in a statement: ”We welcome all actions taken by law

enforcement bodies to bring the perpetrators of match manipulation

to justice.”

The Singapore authorities did not formally identify any of the

people taken into custody, but said the ”suspected leader” and

several others wanted in other jurisdictions for suspected

match-fixing were among those in custody.

Italian prosecutors investigating dozens of league and cup games

they say were fixed had followed a trail back to Tan in Singapore.

In court documents that laid out their findings, prosecutors

alleged that Tan is the boss of a crime syndicate that allegedly

made millions betting on rigged Italian games from 2008 to late

2011, through bribing players, referees and club officials.

Italian authorities issued an arrest warrant for Tan and listed

him as their No. 1 suspect, but have been unable to take him into

custody.

Still, at least 50 people have been arrested in Italy for

match-fixing since mid-2011, with matches under investigation by

prosecutors in Cremona, Bari and Naples. Point penalties have been

handed out by the Italian federation for three straight years, with

four Serie A clubs penalized last season.

The Singapore police statement said the suspects are being

investigated for match-fixing offenses under Singapore’s Prevention

of Corruption Act and for involvement in organized crime.

The detainees are being held under a law that potentially allows

Singapore’s government to hold suspects without trial for up to 12

months, a detention period that can be extended. Introduced in

1955, that law has been used against suspected drug traffickers,

illegal money-lenders and criminal gang members.

Leicester wrote from Paris, Dampf from Rome. APTN Video

Journalist Dmitry Vlasov in Kiev and Associated Press writers

Ansley Ng in Singapore and Sean Yoong in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia,

contributed to this report.

Follow Andrew Dampf at http://twitter.com/AndrewDampfAP