Match-fixing: Italian arrests linked to S'pore
The latest round of arrests in Italy's ongoing crackdown on match-fixing saw high-profile figures in Italian football detained or questioned.
Lazio captain Stefano Mauri was one of 14 people arrested, and Juventus' Serie A-winning coach Antonio Conte and Italy international Domenico Criscito were questioned over allegations of "criminal association and sporting fraud".
Conte's residence was one of the 31 homes searched.
Police also showed up at the Italian national team's training ground in Florence to question Criscito, who has since pulled out of next month's Euro 2012 to clear his name.
As Italian football strives to clear its own name, The International Centre for Sport Security's director of sports integrity Chris Eaton called its efforts the most significant match-fixing investigation in the sport.
While football's governing body Fifa, too, has applauded the latest moves in the ongoing match-rigging investigation in Italy called operation "Last Bet", it stressed the match-fixing malaise cannot be curbed until the money men behind it are prosecuted.
And the money trail in the saga of Italian football's compromised matches can be traced back to Singapore and alleged match-fixing financier Dan Tan Seet Eng, who is believed to have fixed matches in the country since 2008.
Said a Fifa investigator, who wanted to be known only as John: "The recent arrests of players in Serie A as well as fixers and officials in the MSL (Malaysian Super League)show significant efforts to eradicate the individuals who are corrupting the game of football.
"Our investigations have shown there are match-fixing syndicates operating globally and each syndicate comprises different levels of operators.
"Although these are significant arrests, we believe that match-fixing will continue as long as persons, such as Dan Tan who finance these operations, are not identified and dealt with."
Last December, Italian authorities in Cremona issued arrest warrants for 17 people - Italian football players, Balkan gang members and three Singaporeans, including Tan, 47.
Tan, the alleged mastermind with Balkan links, was said to have manipulated matches in Italy's Serie A and B since 2008.
In February, Cremona's chief investigator, Sergio Lo Presti, told The New Paper through an Italian translator: "Via Interpol,wehave issued an international arrest warrant for Mr Tan Seet Eng. We are also in contact with Singaporean police via Interpol."
The investigator added that Italy does not have an extradition treaty with Singapore, but "if Tan Seet Eng sets foot in a country that has an international treaty with Italy, he will be arrested".
Some media reports on Monday have suggested that Tan was arrested last December, but The New Paper understands that he is still at large.
Fellow Singaporean and convicted match-fixer Wilson Raj Perumal admitted to Finnish police last year that he was one of five shareholders from Slovenia, Bulgaria, Croatia and Hungary who report to alleged Singaporean financier Tan.
Their relationship has since soured and in January Wilson Raj told TNP that it was Tan who ratted him out to authorities in Finland and caused him to be arrested when he tried leaving the Helsinki Vantaa international airport with a fake passport in February last year.
Wilson Raj was subsequently sentenced to two years in prison for bribing players, entering Finland with a forged Singapore passport and obstructing the duties of government officials by trying to escape from custody.
The notorious match-fixer, who has been linked to compromised matches across the world, is now in Hungary after he was extradited there in March.
It is unclear if the 46-year-old has been charged for match-fixing or is assisting with investigations there.
Photo credit: TNP, Reuters, AFP
Source: The New Paper
Published May 31 2012