Ding Si Yang, a Singaporean businessman, was found guilty of supplying prostitutes to soccer officials in exchange for fixing matches.
“There was an irresistible inference that the provision of the social escorts was connected with the accused’s involvement in match-fixing,” Singapore District Judge Toh Yung Cheong said in court today.
The conviction comes after a syndicate based in Singapore was named in a European probe as being responsible for rigging or attempting to fix 680 matches from 2008 to 2011. Soccer’s governing body FIFA is probing games played in the last World Cup build-up by 2010 host South Africa, which it says appear to have been manipulated with possible links to convicted Singaporean match-fixer Wilson Raj Perumal.
Police arrested 15 people on June 21 for their suspected involvement in receiving S$800,000 ($641,600) in illegal soccer bets and detained four others in October for their role in global match-rigging.
Ding, who faces as long as five years in jail for each charge, will be sentenced on July 22. His lawyer Hamidul Haq said Ding, 32, will appeal the verdict. His bail was raised to S$400,000 from S$300,000.
Ding had pleaded not guilty to providing free sexual services to three Lebanese referees. He was a freelance reporter doing soccer-related research for a book, his lawyer had said during the trial.
Judge Toh dismissed the theory that Ding was cultivating the officials as journalistic sources as being “far-fetched.” Ding sought to do “business” with the referees, with the term “business” being a euphemism for getting involved in match-fixing, the judge said.
One of the three Lebanese officials served six months and the two others were jailed for three months each after pleading guilty last year to corruptly accepting sexual favors.
The men were scheduled to officiate an Asian Football Confederation Cup game in Singapore on April 3, 2013. They were replaced before the match between Singapore-based Tampines Rovers and East Bengal, which won 4-2.
Singapore has said it’s providing assistance to overseas enforcement agencies on Perumal and sent police officials to join Interpol’s global Anti-Match-Fixing task force. Italian authorities have named Singaporean Dan Tan Seet Eng, one of the four detained without trial in October, as the head of the match-fixing gang.
The criminal case is Public Prosecutor v Ding Si Yang DAC011276 to DAC011278/2013. Singapore State Courts.