Singapore court sentences man to 4 years jail for fixing soccer match in regional tournament

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SINGAPORE — A supervisor at a construction company with a match-fixing history was on Monday sentenced to four years in jail for bribing a foreign coach and players in Singapore an attempt to rig a preliminary Southeast Asian Games soccer match.

Rajendran R Kurusamy, 55, pleaded guilty to meeting Timor Leste's team manager, Orlando Marques Henriques Mendes, in Singapore on May 28 with the help of an Indonesian referee and a former Timor Leste player.

Mendes, who was also the technical director of the Football Federation of Timor Leste, was offered 15,000 Singapore dollars ($10,700) by Rajendran to hold a goalless score-line for 20 minutes in a first-round match against Malaysia, before losing by a few goals. Mendes allegedly accepted the bribe. Rajendran also offered to pay at least seven players $4,000 (US$2,844) each.

All four men were arrested by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau before the match on the evening of May 30. Malaysia won 1-0. Timor Leste subsequently finished fifth in its group of six teams and failed to qualify for the semi-finals.

Deputy public prosecutor Nicholas Khoo dubbed Rajendran as the country's "most prolific match-fixer in terms of number of convictions."

In 1997, Rajendran was sentenced to 27 months in jail for attempting to bribe three players of the local S-League.

Two years later, he received another 24-month jail sentence for agreeing to give a prison warden 20,000 Singapore dollars ($14,300) in exchange for a smuggled mobile phone. Rajendran used the phone to make football bets and illegal personal calls.

"In the present case, the accused's offenses were clearly premeditated," Khoo told the court. "The fact that the accused is a recalcitrant offender who has a string of similar antecedents for match-fixing offences ... evidences that the accused criminal tendencies are not an uncharacteristic aberration, but part of a defined pattern of criminality," he said.

In passing the sentence for two corruption charges, district judge Hamidah Ibrahim noted the need for "general deterrence" given that Rajendran was found guilty of similar charges in the past.

For the first charge of bribing Mendes, he was given a jail term of 42 months. The second charge of offering bribes to at least seven Timor Leste players attracted a jail term of 48 months - the highest of its kind dealt on a single charge for match-fixing - she said, adding that both charges will run concurrently.

Rajendran also had a history of working with notorious Singaporean match-fixer Wilson Raj Perumal.

The bearded Rajendran, who has been on remand since May, appeared in court handcuffed, dressed in white and brown prison garb.

He looked unfazed when the judgment was dealt but family members in the courtroom were teary-eyed as they exchanged final words before he was led away.

Rajendran is the second out of the group of four to present a plea. For his role, Indonesian referee Nasiruddin, who goes by one name, was sentenced to 30 months' jail on July 21.

The maximum penalty for corruption in Singapore is a five-year jail term and 100,000 Singapore dollars ($71,400) fine.

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