Shannon Teoh | AFP
Published — Thursday 21 February 2013
Last update 26 February 2013 2:26 am
KUALA LUMPUR: The head of Interpol on Thursday urged Singapore to move against one of its citizens considered a key suspect in global football match-rigging, as one of his alleged associates was arrested in Italy.
Secretary-General Ronald Noble told a news conference in Kuala Lumpur that the city-state needed to move on Tan Seet Eng, also known as Dan Tan, who has emerged as a central figure in the suspected rigging of nearly 700 games worldwide.
“The fact that there can be an alleged organized crime head operating in a country known to be safe, secure like Singapore, distresses Singaporeans and distresses the world,” said Noble.
The call, made at the end of a two-day meeting between Interpol and world football officials, came as police in Italy arrested an alleged associate of Tan, Admir Sulic, at Milan’s Malpensa airport.
The Slovenian, who is suspected of belonging to a betting syndicate called the “zingari” (gypsies) headed by Tan, was held after arriving on a flight from Singapore, according to the Italian news agency ANSA.
An international arrest warrant was issued for Sulic in December 2011 in connection with the illegal betting or “calcioscommesse” scandal in Italian football that implicated dozens of players, coaches and officials.
Noble had earlier praised Singapore for tipping off Interpol and the Italian authorities about Sulic’s arrival in Italy, although he did not name the suspect directly or give his nationality.
He was wanted for questioning in relation to alleged match-rigging by Tan’s organization, which the Interpol boss said was linked to suspect results in some 60 countries.
Tan’s name has cropped up in multiple match-rigging investigations but remains at large in Singapore, where police have said they need hard evidence before arresting anyone. Tan has denied wrongdoing.
His comments come two weeks after Europol said 380 suspicious games have been identified in Europe among nearly 700 worldwide, including Champions League ties and World Cup qualifiers.
The European police agency has said it suspects a criminal syndicate based in Singapore.
The latest match-fixing revelations have put a renewed focus on the problem, which has long been documented in Asia and now appears to be increasing throughout the world, fueled by the advent of lucrative online gambling.
But FIFA director of security Ralf Mutschke said the outcomes of the conference — such as a pledge to work toward fixing legal loopholes and more information-sharing between FAs and police — could see the fight against match-fixing “gain momentum.”
“Not one player alone can be effective but we all together can make the difference. The match has started already and we are lagging behind. I call upon you to join us on the pitch, playing, tackling and scoring,” he said in his closing speech.