Court orders alleged match-fixer's property, assets frozen

Rai is being probed for possible offences under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act.
Rai is being probed for possible offences under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act.ST FILE PHOTO

Ruling follows CPIB report showing accused had amassed $3.8m in 'unexplained wealth'

An alleged match-fixer will not be able to profit from his four properties or deal with cash in three bank accounts after a Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) report found he had amassed $3.8 million in unexplained wealth over six years.

The High Court issued the order against Rajendar Prasad Rai, 43, placing a charge on the properties and preventing him from disposing of the cash, after a three-day hearing.

Rai is being investigated for possible offences under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act (CDSA).

He has a separate match-fixing case currently in the State Courts.

Senior Judge Lai Siu Chiu explained the decision to restrain Rai from disposing of the funds from his four properties and three UOB accounts in judgment grounds issued last week.

He said the State did have "indirect proof" of Rai's "unexplained wealth" of $3,811,127 held between January 2009 and September 2015, which is "likely to be derived from his criminal conduct".

The Public Prosecutor had applied for the order based on the CPIB report analysing concealed income in relation to Rai's financial affairs.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Kiat Pheng said the methodology used to compute the relevant sums was based on established practice used here and in the United States.

Rai, whose criminal activities were suspected to have begun in 2009, worked for only about seven months up to February 2009, and his flight attendant wife stopped working in 2002. He paid income tax totalling some $20,000 for 2013 and 2015.

The 17-page report also factored in the couple's rental income from all their properties and Rai's winnings from Singapore Pools of $546,840 and $790,830 from bets of $279,000 and $362,500 in 2013 and 2015 respectively.

The analysis included his alleged inheritance of $1 million cash from his late father and a unit in Chancery Court in his name, as well as the couple's living expenses.

Senior Counsel N. Sreenivasan and lawyer Jason Lim, in defending Rai, challenged the report, arguing that the court must be satisfied that the benefits had been derived by Rai from drug dealing or from criminal conduct. He contended this requirement was missing in Rai's case, who, he told the court, was a "very successful punter".

The defence also countered with an accounting expert's report against the CPIB analysis and the judge noted the criticisms were "not unfounded".

But "leaving aside the dispute between the parties vis-a-vis the methodology used to calculate (Rai's) assets and liabilities, the court cannot overlook the fact that a person of (Rai)'s reasonably modest means and who of late (with his wife) was not gainfully employed, possessed wealth far in excess of his known means and sources of income", said Judge Lai.

The judge ruled that the court had to take a "pragmatic approach" and found that even if Rai's unexplained wealth of $3.8m was discounted by $1 million, the remaining balance called for credible, documented explanations and his submissions "could not/did not reduce this figure to zero".

Judge Lai added Rai had been charged with match-fixing in September 2015 and the trial took place about 18 months later.

"If (Mr Rai) will indeed be charged under the CDSA, it was incumbent on the (Public Prosecutor) to do so promptly out of fairness to the defendant and in the interests of justice," said Judge Lai.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 10, 2017, with the headline 'Court orders alleged match-fixer's property, assets frozen'. Print Edition | Subscribe