LYON: Interpol has welcomed the Singapore authorities’ long-awaited move to begin a crackdown on the local nerve centre of a long-running worldwide matchfixing ring.

Secretary-general Ron Noble was speaking in the wake of last week’s arrests swoop in which local crime enforcement officers reportedly detained up to five matchfix bosses including Tan Seet Eng, known as Dan Tan.

Prosecutors in both Hungary and Italy have arrest warrants outstanding against Tan who has been safe in Singapore which has limited extradition arrangements.

Last week’s action raised hopes abroad that the Singapore authorities had gathered evidence of their own to pursue legal action locally within the city state. In June three Lebanese match officials were jailed in Singapore for attempting to fix a regional match.

Noble, without naming names, said: “I’m confident that Singapore law enforcement authorities have arrested the mastermind and leader of the world’s most notorious match-fixing syndicate.

“It is significant because this syndicate is considered the worlds largest and most aggressive match-fixing syndicate with tentacles reaching every continent and the mastermind was someone many believed was untouchable.

Local resources

“I was really proud that Singapore conducted this investigation on its soil, using its own laws and resources and we were able to bring some of the people to justice.”

Last week’s action saw 14 people arrested, 12 men and two women, under the Prevention of Corruption Act on suspicion of involvement with an organised crime group undertaking match-fixing. Nine of the 14 have since been released on bail.

Noble added: “There isn’t a country or region that is immune from matchfixing but you are seeing more and more investigations being broken around the world and we will be taking on other syndicates that are doing illegal business to the tune of $1bn or 2bn a year.”

Europol, Interpol’s European ‘cousin’, claimed last February that a Singapore-based syndicate had fixed nearly 400 games in Europe alone for a betting ring profit of least €8m.

A further 300 suspicious matches were identified in Africa, Asia and Latin America including qualifying games for the World Cup and European Championships, and the Champions League for top European club sides.

Separate cases

Earlier this month Australian police acted against a matchfixing scam in the Victorian state league centred on the Southern Stars club; last week El Salvador banned 14 of its own international players for life over matchfixing in friendlies and in the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

At the weekend, in Malaysia, players and officials of Perak were suspended for two weeks pending an inquiry into a string of suspicious results and performances in the Malaysian Cup.