Singaporean Ding Si Yang was sentenced to three years in jail for supplying prostitutes to three Lebanese referees as part of a scheme to fix soccer matches, a crime the judge said harmed the Asian city’s image.
Match fixing offenses affect Singapore’s reputation for having low levels of corruption, Singapore District Judge Toh Yung Cheong said in delivering his sentence today. However prosecutors failed to prove that Ding was a member of a large international criminal syndicate, the judge said.
Prosecutors said they plan to appeal Ding’s jail term after arguing that the 32-year-old former night-club owner should get as long as six years in jail as he had links to a global match-fixing group. Ding, who could have been jailed for as long as 15 years, is appealing his July 1 conviction. He shouldn’t be punished for the actions of every match-fixer in Singapore and should be fined instead, his lawyer had argued.
Ding, who had claimed he was cultivating the three visiting Lebanese officials as sources for his freelance football journalism, is linked to the syndicate run by another Singaporean Dan Tan Seet Eng, prosecutors had said.
Tan, who was detained in Singapore in October for alleged match-fixing, was identified by European authorities last year as being responsible for fixing or attempting to rig 680 matches from 2008 to 2011.
Ding will start his jail term today after the judge denied him bail while awaiting his appeal.
Authorities around the world are seeking to clamp down on match-fixing and illegal soccer betting operations, which Interpol says are often linked to corruption, human trafficking and money laundering. An Interpol-coordinated operation during the recent World Cup in Brazil saw at least 1,400 people arrested in Asia and raids on gambling dens estimated to have handled $2.2 billion in soccer bets.
Singapore police arrested 56 people and seized S$2.8 million ($2.3 million) from illegal soccer betting operations since May 18. Ding, who was charged last year, bet on matches he fixed and benefited from criminal activity, prosecutors said.
He paid S$1.1 million in cash for a house in Singapore’s eastern district, S$551,500 for an Aston Martin V8 Vantage and S$281,403 for a Porsche 911, according to court documents.
Ding would have placed $150,000 on a match had the Lebanese referees rigged the game, prosecutors said. The soccer officials were arrested before they were scheduled to officiate an Asian Football Confederation Cup game in the Asian city on April 3, 2013.
One referee was jailed for six months and the two others were sentenced to three months each after pleading guilty last year to corruptly accepting sexual favors.
The criminal case is Public Prosecutor v Ding Si Yang DAC011276 to DAC011278/2013. Singapore State Courts.