March 6 (Bloomberg) -- A Singapore businessman accused of offering free sex from prostitutes in an effort to influence soccer officials and fix matches lost a bid to have the charges dismissed in the midst of his trial.
District Judge Toh Yung Cheong today rejected the request, telling Ding Si Yang, 31, he may choose to defend himself or remain silent.
International organized crime groups are increasingly involved in match-fixing and using the profits to fund other illegal activities, according to Interpol. Law enforcement and soccer associations around the globe are cracking down on corruption of the world’s most popular sport, with 14 people having been arrested in Singapore in September.
Players and officials in countries including Italy, China, South Korea, Hungary and Finland have been banned or charged with fixing matches.
Ding sought to have charges that he provided free sexual services in a bid to influence three Lebanese soccer officials thrown out without having to defend himself in Singapore Subordinate Courts.
“There’s no credible evidence to establish or even show that gratification was offered,” Ding’s lawyer Thong Chee Kun said. “Mr. Ding must be discharged today of all three charges.”
No direct evidence was presented that showed Ding arranged for the women, although others may have, Thong said.
Realm of Fantasy
“That possibility exists only in the realm of fantasy,” Prosecutor Alan Loh responded. “That realm is in the mind of the accused.”
The three Lebanese officials had pleaded guilty to accepting sexual favors. Two assistant referees were sentenced in June to three months in jail, with a referee receiving a six-month jail term.
All were deported after serving their sentences.
The men were scheduled to officiate an April 3 Asian Football Confederation Cup game in Singapore. They were replaced before the match between Singapore-based Tampines Rovers and East Bengal, which won 4-2 in a game that included an own goal by the Rovers.
Ding was a freelance reporter doing soccer-related research for a book, his lawyer had said during the trial. If convicted, Ding can be jailed for as long as five years and fined as much as S$100,000 for each of the three charges.
The criminal case is Public Prosecutor v Ding Si Yang DAC011276 to DAC011278/2013. Singapore Subordinate Courts.
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