Two Singaporeans charged in UK match-fixing investigation

Delroy Facey, a former player who made 10 Premier League appearances for Bolton, is among others allegedly arrested

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 November, 2013, 10:14am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 November, 2013, 10:15am

Two Singaporeans were charged as part of a UK probe into soccer match-fixing that may involve five others, Britain’s National Crime Agency said.

Chann Sankaran, 33, and Krishna Sanjey Ganeshan, a 43-year-old with dual UK and Singapore nationality, were due to appear before Cannock magistrates in England on Friday, the NCA said on its website. The five other men arrested were released on bail, the agency said.

The arrests came after The Daily Telegraph published a report on Thursday that said match-fixers from Asia were targeting games across Britain. The newspaper published two secretly recorded videos of meetings in Manchester with an “internationally known fixer” who said lower-league matches could be manipulated for £50,000 (HK$631,800).

It would be terrible if we look back on this in months and years to come and discover this is just the tip
Nick Clegg

Sankaran and Ganeshan were charged with conspiracy to defraud by conspiring together and with others to defraud bookmakers by influencing the course of football matches and placing bets, the NCA said. The charges carry a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.

The newspaper also named one of the men arrested as player agent Delroy Facey, a former player who made 10 Premier League appearances during an 18-month spell at Bolton that ended in January 2004. At least three others are soccer players, the Telegraph said, adding that none of the teams involved in the probe are in the Premier League.

An e-mail sent to Facey yesterday by Bloomberg News through the LinkedIn social-networking website, seeking comment on the report, wasn’t returned.

The NCA investigation was informed in part by evidence provided by a source at the Telegraph, said a spokesman for the anti-crime body.

The NCA, which started operations last month and focuses on stopping organised crime, said it was working on the investigation with the Gambling Commission and the Football Association, soccer’s governing body in England.

In a statement, the FA acknowledged that it was collabourating with the other authorities, without providing additional detail. The Gambling Commission confirmed its part in the probe while also declining to give any further information.

Meanwhile, 20 current and former footballers in the Austrian league are being treated as suspects over match-fixing and up to 17 first and second division matches could have been manipulated in the last seven years, criminal investigators said.

The revelations came a day after the arrest of defender Dominique Taboga, who was released by first division SV Groedig two weeks ago over match-fixing allegations.

Altogether, six people are currently in custody in connection with the case, including former Austria international forward Sanel Kuljic and two Albanian citizens, investigators and state prosecutors told a news conference in Salzburg.

Investigators said the 17 matches under suspicion included nine in the Bundesliga, the top flight of Austrian football, of which three were played this season involving Groedig.

In February, a European law-enforcement probe into a Singapore-based operation revealed details of the attempted fixing of 680 matches including World Cup and European Championship qualifiers, Champions League matches and several top-flight games. The 18-month investigation by Europol found 425 match officials, club executives, players and criminals in 15 countries worked to cheat in more than 380 matches in Europe, while another 300 games in Africa, Asia, and South and Central America may also have been targeted.

British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he was worried about the allegations.

“I’ve read accounts of football match-fixing in other countries and thought: “There by the grace of God go we. I hope that’s the sum total of it. It would be terrible if we look back on this in months and years to come and discover this is just the tip.”

Bloomberg, Reuters