SINGAPORE: Singaporean police said the suspected boss of a major football match-fixing ring was “assisting” investigations yesterday after the head of Interpol urged his arrest and an alleged associate was held in Italy.
Tan Seet Eng, also known as Dan Tan, who has been named in several probes and is wanted in Italy, but denies wrongdoing, is “currently assisting Singapore authorities in their investigations,” a police statement said.
It is the first time police have indicated Tan has undergone questioning. Singapore has come under growing pressure to act after Europol linked hundreds of suspicious games worldwide to a criminal syndicate in the city-state.
Police also confirmed they gave the tip-off that led to the arrest of Admir Sulic, an alleged associate of Tan, as he arrived at Milan’s Malpensa airport from Singapore earlier on Thursday.
“The Singapore authorities have been offering assistance and sharing available information with affected countries and will continue to do so,” the statement said.
“Dan Tan Seet Eng, a Singaporean who has been named in reports so far, is currently assisting Singapore authorities in their investigations.” It added: “In response to media queries, the Singapore Police Force confirms that it had informed the National Crime Bureau (NCB) Rome of the travel plans of a person wanted by the Italian authorities for investigations into match-fixing.” .”.. The person has since been arrested by the Italian authorities and NCB Rome has thanked the police for its support in this matter.” The apparent crackdown comes just hours after Interpol secretary-general Ronald Noble, speaking at a match-fixing conference in neighboring Malaysia, bluntly told Singapore to arrest Tan.
Tan is wanted in Italy over the wide-ranging “calcioscommesse” scandal and emerged as a key suspect two weeks ago when Europol said fixers had targeted 380 games in Europe and 300 more around the world.
“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,” Noble said on Thursday.
He also revealed that Singapore police had given a tip-off that a match-fixing suspect was en route from Singapore to Milan.
Interpol later said Slovenian Admir Sulic, 31, a suspected member of the so-called “zingari” (gypsies) syndicate allegedly headed by Tan, was arrested after touching down in the northern Italian city.
An international arrest warrant was issued for Sulic in December 2011 in connection with the “calcioscommesse” (football betting) scandal in Italy which implicated dozens of players, coaches and officials.
Interpol said Sulic was suspected of “fraud and qualified sporting fraud committed within criminal association,” and was wanted for questioning in relation to alleged match-rigging by Tan’s organization linked to suspect results in some 60 countries.
Tan’s name has cropped up in multiple investigations but he has so far remained at large in Singapore, where police last week said they needed hard evidence before arresting anyone.
Europol’s report has put a renewed focus on match-fixing, which has long been documented in Asia and now appears to be increasing throughout the world, fueled by the advent of lucrative online gambling.
Only this week, China handed out bans, fines and points deductions at the end of a major investigation into match-fixing and corruption, and claims emerged in Thailand that criminals tried to rig the country’s FA Cup final last year.