Ex-Fifa security chief surprised at Tan's release

Alleged match-fixing mastermind Dan Tan pictured with his lawyers Thong Chee Kun (left) and Ho Lifen (right) after being freed yesterday by the Court of Appeal.
Alleged match-fixing mastermind Dan Tan pictured with his lawyers Thong Chee Kun (left) and Ho Lifen (right) after being freed yesterday by the Court of Appeal. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

The man who once said the "death knell" was sounding for Dan Tan Seet Eng's alleged match-fixing syndicate reacted with surprise and disappointment at the Singaporean's release from prison yesterday.

Australian Chris Eaton, the former security chief at world football body Fifa, said the Republic should exercise a "duty of care" to the global marketplace.

He had previously pointed to alleged links between Tan and convicted match-fixer Wilson Raj Perumal, who was arrested in Finland in 2011.

Under the Home Affairs Minister's grounds for detaining Tan in 2013, Tan was accused of being the "leader and financer of a global match-fixing syndicate operating from Singapore that carried out fixing activities in many parts of the world". These ranged from Asia to Africa and the Caribbean.

In an e-mailed reply to The Straits Times yesterday, Mr Eaton, now the director of sport integrity at the Doha-based International Centre for Sport Security, said: "The daily reality of the world today is replete with the routine global connections and integrations that Singapore has taken maximum advantage of to build an outstanding economy.

"If this is a failing of extra-territorial legislation, then the Singapore Government must fix it."

Tan, 51, was released after the Court of Appeal made a landmark ruling that his detention under the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act was unlawful as the Home Affairs Minister's powers were limited to detaining suspects whose activities threaten the public safety, peace and good order within Singapore; there are no suggestions that Tan's overseas match-fixing activities fell within this scope.

Speaking to the Associated Press, Italian prosecutor Roberto di Martino - who was leading an inquiry into international match-fixing - called Tan's release "strange", adding that "as far as I'm concerned there's an abundance of proof".

The decision made headlines around the world yesterday. The New York Times reported that "the court found that the allegations did not meet the standard of the detention law", while the BBC stated that Tan has been "implicated by Interpol in fixing hundreds of sports events, mostly football matches".

Last month, former South African football chief Lindile Kika was banned by Fifa for six years following a probe into friendlies ahead of the 2010 World Cup. The manipulation is believed to be by referees working for Tan and Perumal's syndicate.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 26, 2015, with the headline 'Ex-Fifa security chief surprised at Tan's release'. Print Edition | Subscribe