Court of Appeal rules that detention of alleged match-fixer is “unlawful”

supreme court

The Court of Appeal freed businessman and alleged match-fixing mastermind Dan Tan Seet Eng from detention under the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act* on Wednesday. Tan had been detained since October 2013.

On 23 May 2013, Hungarian prosecutors indicted Tan in absentia, aong with 44 others following a four-year investigation into match-fixing. The indictment specified the rigging of 32 games in Hungary, Italy, and Finland. He was subsequently arrested along with 13 other individuals during an islandwide raid in September that year.

The Court of Appeal judged that the detention of 51-year-old Tan was unlawful.

Tan, represented by Mr Hamidul Haq and Mr Thong Chee Kun, challenged his continued detention after having his previous application dismissed by the court in November last year.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon mentioned the raison d’etre of the Act is the protection of public safety, peace and good order in Singapore, local media reported.

However, as the grounds given for Tan’s detention involved fixing football matches in countries such as Egypt, South Africa, Nigeria and Turkey, the offences set out few connections with Singapore.

“While… these acts are reprehensible and should not be condoned, there is nothing to suggest whether, or how, these activities could be thought to have a bearing on the public safety, peace and good order within Singapore,” said the Chief Justice. “The matches fixed, whether or not successfully, all took place beyond our shores.”

It was reported that the Chief Justice added that the court was unable to see how the grounds put forward for Tan’s detention can be said to fall within the scope of the circumstances in which the power to detain under the Act may be exercised by the Minister.

In the closed-door judicial review of Tan’s detention, Tan had claimed Wilson Raj, 49, framed him after the two fell out. Mr Tan also claimed Wilson Raj held a grudge against him as he probably thought Tan was responsible for his arrest in Finland. He denied heading or funding any syndicate.

“I ran errands for Wilson Raj and gave loans that he had requested primarily because of the betting tips he gave me,” he said. “I enjoyed betting and, over time, Wilson Raj showed me that he had reliable betting tips.”

Wilson Raj Perumal is accused on several match fixing scandals, including Asiagate in 2007–2009 and the 2008–2011 Finnish match-fixing scandal. He has since fled Singapore, and is now in Hungary, where he is under police protection in return for his help in match-fixing investigations.

In response to Tan’s claims of being framed, the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) submitted in November 2014 that Tan’s claims had not been backed up with evidence.

Tan has been released following the ruling. According to a legal academic whom TOC spoke to, Tan may have the possibility of pursuing a civil suit against the government for unlawful detention.

*The Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act allows the Minister of Home Affairs to order the detention of suspected criminals without trial. The orders are up to a year and reviewed annually.

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November 2015
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