Ex-Malaysian football player jailed 2 years for match-fixing

SINGAPORE - A former Malaysian national footballer was jailed for two years on Thursday for match-fixing.

Thanasegar S. Sinnaiah, 40, had abetted project manager Selvarajan Letchuman to corruptly give RM15,000 to Malaysian part-time referee Shokri Nor to ensure that LionsXII beat Sarawak FA in the Malaysian Super League by at least three goals in May 2012.

The match ended in a 3-0 win for LionsXII. All three were arrested before the match kicked off.

Thanasegar had also abetted Selvarajan and Shokri in a conspiracy to cheat Singapore Pools by dishonestly concealing the match-fixing arrangements.

This was to let Selvarajan win $10,500 on a $5,000 bet placed at a Singapore Pools outlet near Rangoon Road, and $5,000 on a $500 bet he placed in Rowell Road that day.

The case of Selvarajan, 52, is pending while Shokri, 50, is still on the run after jumping bail in July 2012.

One of the aggravating factors highlighted by Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Nicholas Khoo is that Thanasegar's actions had reinforced the unfortunate global perception of Singapore as a haven for match-fixing. The DPP also argued that cheating a public institution such as Singapore Pools warrants a deterrent sentence.

Thanasegar had absconded while on court bail in 2012 and was re-arrested last August. The fact that he had absconded was also aggravating, added the DPP.

Thanasegar's lawyer Rakesh Vasu said his client will be a prosecution witness in Selvarajan's trial and Shokri's case should the latter be re-arrested.

He said this was the first time his client was involved in match-fixing and submitted that Thanasegar was less culpable than Eric Ding, who was convicted of giving sex bribes to Lebanese officials in a football match.

"He acknowledges that his single act of misdeed has contributed to tarnish Singapore's good name... He sincerely apologises not only to the fans, but also to everyone concerned in the sport of football, for his irresponsible, despicable actions,'' he said.

Thanasegar could have been fined up to $100,000 and/or jailed for up to five years for corruption; and up to 10 years and fined for each charge of cheating.

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