Singaporeans guilty of UK match-fixing plot
Two Singaporean businessmen and a footballer were found guilty on Tuesday of involvement in a match-fixing conspiracy targeting English lower league games - by Jack Guez
Businessmen Chann Sankaran, 33, and Krishna Ganeshan, 44, were convicted of conspiracy to commit bribery, by a unanimous jury decision at Birmingham Crown Court in central England.
Michael Boateng, 22, a former defender with sixth-tier side Whitehawk FC, was also convicted of the same offence.
Jurors cleared fellow former Whitehawk player Hakeem Adelakun of the same charge.
Moses Swaibu, who also played for the Brighton-based team, was granted unconditional bail pending a retrial.
He is accused of a single count of conspiracy to offer, promise or give a financial advantage to other persons. All the defendants denied all the charges against them.
Boateng, Sankaran and Ganeshan face sentencing on Friday, and could face up to 10 years in prison.
A National Crime Agency (NCA) probe was launched following a Daily Telegraph undercover investigation.
- 'This is not sport' -
"The NCA is in no doubt that Ganeshan and Sankaran were at the very beginning of a concerted attempt to build a network of corrupt players in the UK," said NCA branch commander Richard Warner.
"Their aim was to influence play so that they could make spot bets and manipulate scorelines to generate large sums of money. They clearly had links to business-like networks overseas.
"This is not sport as a football-loving nation recognises it," he added. "It is corruption and bribery linked to serious organised crime".
Sankaran and Ganeshan were described as the "central figures" in attempts to fix the outcome of matches in the lower division league Conference South.
Prosecutor Robert Davies said the pair had "come across to the UK with a plan to find lower league players willing to take a bribe or encourage other players to do so."
The two men flew into Manchester airport on November 21 last year, and were immediately monitored by surveillance teams, according to the NCA.
The agency tracked Sankaran and Ganeshan to a coffee shop in south London, where they met with Adelakun and Boateng and a man who they believed was an international investor.
The man handed to Sankaran and Ganeshan €60,000 in cash which, unbeknown to the men, had been marked by the NCA, the agency revealed.
The biggest case of fixing in sport in Britain in recent years involved three Pakistan cricketers and a British agent who were jailed in 2011 for spot-fixing during a Test match against hosts England.
The men were involved in pre-arranging no-balls for shadowy South Asian betting rings.
Singapore's police and anti-corruption agency in September last year rounded up 14 alleged members of a global match-fixing syndicate, in one of the biggest crackdowns yet on corruption in football.
Interpol has said that the ring busted in Singapore was the world's "largest and most aggressive match-fixing syndicate, with tentacles reaching every continent".
Experts have said that easy international transport, a passport accepted around the world and fluency in English and Mandarin have helped Singaporean fixers spread their influence abroad with the support of external investors, most believed to be from China.
The Doha-based watchdog International Centre for Sport Security warned in a May report that Asian-dominated criminal groups are laundering more than $140 billion in illegal sports betting annually.
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