Interpol’s chief says Singaporean police notified authorities in Italy of suspected football match-fixer Admir Suljic’s flight to Milan ahead of his arrest on Thursday.
Ronald Noble, Interpol secretary general, said the man is wanted in Italy because he is allegedly working for Singaporean businessman Tan Seet Eng - known as Dan Tan - for whom Italian authorities have issued an arrest warrant.
Noble did not identify Suljic while speaking at a match-fixing conference in Malaysia earlier, saying only that Singaporean police passed the travel information to Interpol to relay to Italian police for possible action.
Italian police later said Suljic of Slovenia was taken into custody after landing at Milan’s Malpensa airport on a flight from Singapore.
Suljic is wanted by judicial authorities in the city of Cremona investigating a massive match-fixing case that has already brought the arrests of more than 50 people, with more than 150 placed under investigation.
Noble said the arrest is “important because the world believes that law enforcement can’t do anything to take down this criminal organisation, the world believes that [Tan] and his associates can’t be touched, that they are above the law,” Noble said.
Tan is accused of heading a crime syndicate that made millions of dollars betting on rigged Italian football matches. Italian officials have been unable to take Tan into custody as the arrest warrant cannot be served while he’s in Asia.
“We will follow the rule of law,” Noble said. “The hope is that [the suspect] will co-operate with law enforcement and tell us all he knows.”
Acknowledging that Singapore has come under criticism for not detaining Tan, Noble said authorities there were restrained because they had to follow their own laws and could only take action when there was enough evidence.
However, Noble added that investigators worldwide have been slow to catch up with match-fixers because they were so far “not properly prepared to work together” and share enough information with their international counterparts.
Fifa head of security Ralf Mutschke said earlier this week at the Malaysian conference he hopes Tan will be brought to face court with the help of Singaporean authorities.
Singapore’s police have said they are reviewing information submitted by the Italian authorities in Tan’s case before deciding what action to take.
Tan’s former associate, Wilson Raj Perumal, has alleged to Italian investigators that Tan placed syndicate wagers on fixed games using Asia-based online betting sites via intermediaries in China.
A report by the European Union’s police agency earlier this month said organised crime gangs, including ones in Asia, have fixed or tried to fix hundreds of football matches around the world.
The Singapore Police Force announced Thursday that four senior officers from the SPF and Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau will be heading to the Interpol Headquarters in Lyon, France, to join the Global Anti-Match-fixing Taskforce.
Europol said its 18-month review found 380 suspicious matches in Europe and another 300 questionable games outside the continent, mainly in Africa, Asia and South and Central America.