Former player in match-fixing scandal gets to keep citizenship

A Citizenship Committee of Inquiry recommended to Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam that he exercise his discretion and allow Mr Gaye Alassane (left) to keep his citizenship on compassionate grounds. It noted that he did not have any adverse record
A Citizenship Committee of Inquiry recommended to Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam that he exercise his discretion and allow Mr Gaye Alassane (above) to keep his citizenship on compassionate grounds. It noted that he did not have any adverse record during detention or police supervision, and has not returned to crime since.PHOTO: GAYE ALASSANE/FACEBOOK

Mali-born footballer deemed unlikely to re-offend and is given another chance by Home Affairs Minister

Former S-League player Gaye Alassane, who was part of a global match-fixing syndicate, will not be deprived of his Singapore citizenship after all, as he is assessed to be unlikely to re-offend.

The Mali-born naturalised citizen was served with a Notice of Proposed Deprivation of Citizenship in December last year.

The 43-year-old then referred his case to a citizenship committee, which recommended to Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam that he exercise his discretion and allow Mr Alassane to keep his citizenship on compassionate grounds.

Giving due consideration to the committee's recommendation, the minister has since decided to give Mr Alassane another chance and "not deprive him of his citizenship for now", the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said yesterday.

This decision is subject to his conduct and behaviour, and if he is found taking part in "any act that is against the public good" again, the minister will not hesitate to recommence proceedings to remove his citizenship, the ministry added.

Mr Alassane, who spent one season with football club Gombak United, was detained without trial in 2013 under the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act for about two years. He was subsequently released and placed under police supervision.

Married to a Singaporean, he became a citizen in 2003 through the Family Ties Scheme. At the time his citizenship was approved, there was no information to suggest that he was involved in any criminal activity, said MHA.

But later on, he "became an active and trusted member of an international match-fixing syndicate which was created in and took root in Singapore", MHA said.

Mr Alassane, who spent one season with football club Gombak United, was detained without trial in 2013 under the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act for about two years. He was subsequently released and placed under police supervision.

"He and his syndicate members used Singapore as a hub to conduct major global match-fixing activities," it added.

This involved travelling to dif-ferent countries to fix football matches through the corruption of officials and players. He also drew foreign nationals in Singapore into the syndicate's match-fixing activities, said MHA.

Mr Alassane helped to move bribe monies into the country, and remitted or personally couriered such bribes out of Singapore as well.

"His serious criminal conduct not only undermined the integrity of Singapore's financial system, but also law and order," said MHA. "Witnesses were afraid of testifying against the individual and his syndicate members in open court for fear of reprisal."

Given the extent of his involvement, the minister considered depriving him of citizenship, and he was served a deprivation notice.

Mr Alassane referred his case to a Citizenship Committee of Inquiry. According to the Constitution, this three-member committee must be chaired by a "person qualified to be appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court".

The minister has to consider the committee's report, although he is not bound by the committee's recommendation.

 
 
 

After conducting an inquiry and hearing representations, the committee agreed there were sufficient grounds to deprive Mr Alassane of citizenship, but recommended allowing him to retain his citizenship on compassionate grounds.

The committee noted that he did not have any adverse record during detention or police supervision, and has not returned to crime since. He also appears close to his children and performs voluntary community service at a mosque, it added.

Attempts by The Straits Times to contact Mr Alassane for comment yesterday were unsuccessful.

Singapore Management University law professor Eugene Tan noted that depriving someone of citizenship is an extreme measure the law provides for, but is also one that is used as a last resort.

He said the decision not to deprive him of citizenship "gives confidence to the process and demonstrates that even though someone may have committed serious criminal offences, the system is also willing to recognise it if people are keen and determined to break away from their past".

He added that to assure Singaporeans of the due process behind such an application, more light could be shed on the committee and its work.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2018, with the headline 'Former player in match-fixing scandal gets to keep citizenship'. Print Edition | Subscribe