Singapore Soccer-Fixer’s Jail Term Raised as Warning, Judge SaysAndrea Tan
Singaporean soccer-fixer Eric Ding Si Yang’s three-year jail term was raised to five years as a warning of the heavy penalty of sports-rigging in the city, a judge said.
“A robust sentence is needed to check the rise of the scourge of match-fixing and to repair the reputational damage that has been caused to Singapore,” High Court Justice Chan Seng Onn said today, dismissing Ding’s appeal to reduce his prison term. “Current and future potential match-fixers are now forewarned.”
The Asian city, named in 2013 by European police body Europol as home to an international match-fixing gang, has been cracking down on soccer-match riggers. Ding, who bribed three Lebanese referees with prostitutes in a soccer-fixing attempt, would reinforce the “unfortunate perception” that Singapore is a match-fixing haven, the judge said.
Chan agreed with prosecutors there was evidence Ding was a significant player in a sophisticated, extensive match-fixing syndicate. Prosecutors had argued that Ding, a former night-club owner, should get as long as six years in jail.
Ding had claimed he was cultivating the three visiting Lebanese officials as sources for his freelance football journalism.
Ding’s lawyers Hamidul Haq and Thong Chee Kun said after the hearing they’ll explore available options after studying Chan’s decision. Ding was sentenced to three years in jail in July last year.
Modern technology, including online betting that resulted in increased anonymity, as well as the transnational nature of soccer-fixing, have raised the difficulty in detecting and prosecuting such offenses, the judge said.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who announced in a speech earlier this week a review of the city’s corruption laws, praised the anti-graft agency for thwarting Ding’s match-fixing attempt and securing his conviction.
Singapore “effectively dismantled” an international match-fixing group after jailing four men, including the alleged mastermind, without trial in 2013, the goverment has said.
Justice Chan set a guideline of 3.5 years jail for a bribery offense at soccer’s FIFA World Cup level and 1.5 years for the national SLeague.
Singapore is ranked seventh on a list of countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index for 2014, down two spots from a year earlier.
The criminal appeal is Ding Si Yang v Public Prosecutor, MA158/2014. Singapore High Court.