Wednesday 25 September 2013

Interpol chief Ronald K. Noble slams critics of Singapore's fight against match-fixers

By Bryna Singh, The Straits Times, 24 Sep 2013

INTERPOL chief Ronald K. Noble has defended Singapore's efforts in fighting match-fixing, saying critics like Canadian investigative journalist Declan Hill should "simply open their eyes and look at the facts".

Mr Hill alleged in a BBC radio report last Friday that the Singapore authorities had offered "protection" to suspected global match-fixing syndicate ringleader Dan Tan.

The police arrested Tan, 48, last Tuesday as well as 13 other Singaporeans who are also believed to be involved in the syndicate.

Mr Hill claimed that the Government had known about the syndicate's activities for "at least 20 years", but had "tolerated them".

Mr Noble, who attended the topping-out ceremony of the Interpol Global Complex for Innovation here yesterday, dismissed those claims.

"Those who do not recognise the commitment and resources that Singapore has devoted to identifying those believed to be responsible for match-fixing cases, or who seek publicity simply by criticising every positive development that occurs in fighting match-fixing, should simply open their eyes and look at the facts," he said in a speech at the event.

Speaking later to reporters, Mr Noble said the arrests were significant because Tan's match-fixing syndicate is "considered the world's largest and most aggressive", with "tentacles reaching in every continent".

Tan's ring is said to have rigged over 150 football matches in countries including Italy, Hungary, Finland and Nigeria.

The arrests were an outcome of successful cooperation between Singapore and Interpol's Global Anti-Match-fixing Task Force, Mr Noble added.

He told The Straits Times that the remarks in his speech were in reference to Mr Hill's allegations.

He praised Mr Hill for writing a "great book" exposing global match-fixing crime syndicates, in a reference to the journalist's book, The Fix: Soccer And Organised Crime, published in 2008.

But Mr Noble added that "ever since that book, it seems that all he can do is just criticise, criticise, criticise and not recognise that it's different to write an article where you accuse someone as compared to bringing charges against him".

"I wish he would tell the story from both sides," added Mr Noble.

The Singapore police have refuted Mr Hill's allegations.

They said in a statement yesterday that it was "regrettable" that the BBC allowed its interviewee to make false and baseless allegations.

The statement added that the arrests were a result of concerted efforts made since 2011 and that the police "have invested significant resources into building up a case backed by evidence across multiple jurisdictions".

A BBC spokesman told The Straits Times that it had received a complaint from the police and is investigating.

"The BBC strives for balance and impartiality and in line with our editorial guidelines, we asked the Singapore Police Force for comment but were not granted an interview. A similar request in March was also declined," the spokesman said.

Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs Masagos Zulkifli, who was also a guest of honour at the event, echoed the need for transnational cooperation in combating global criminals.

The Interpol Global Complex will look into emerging crimes such as cybercrime, said Mr Masagos.

"Police can no longer be fully effective by operating within national borders, but must collaborate across multiple jurisdictions," he said.

No comments:

Post a Comment