LONDON (AFP) - Two men with Singaporean nationality suspected of fixing matches in lower-league English football were charged with conspiracy to defraud on Thursday, prosecutors said.
The men, alleged to be members of a Singapore-based illegal betting syndicate, were among six people arrested this week in an investigation by the recently-formed National Crime Agency (NCA).
Chann Sankaran, a 33-year-old Singapore national, and Krishna Sanjey Ganeshan, a 43-year-old with dual British and Singapore nationality, will appear before magistrates in Cannock, central England, on Friday.
A seventh man has been arrested and he and the four other men were bailed on Thursday, the NCA said in a statement.
Sankaran and Ganeshan have been accused of conspiring to defraud bookmakers by influencing the course of football matches and placing bets on them between November 1 and November 26 this year.
The maximum sentence for this offence is 10 years’ imprisonment. The NCA added their investigation was ongoing.
Earlier, the Daily Telegraph newspaper said an undercover investigation by its reporters had triggered the probe by the NCA, Britain’s answer to the FBI.
No teams in England’s lucrative Premier League are believed to be involved in the probe.
A spokesman for the Football Association, the sport’s governing body in England, said: “We have worked closely with the authorities in relation to these allegations. The FA will make no further comment at this time due to ongoing investigations.”
The Football League, which runs the three professional divisions below the Premier League, said they had not been contacted by the police.
“The threat of corruption is something that the Football League and the other football authorities treat with the utmost seriousness,” said chief executive Shaun Harvey.
“The integrity of our matches and our competitions is the bedrock of the domestic game.”
In February, Europe-wide police agency Europol said it had found evidence of match-fixing in top international football matches and it had uncovered an organised crime syndicate based in Asia that was behind the operation.
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.