Malaysian man in custody amid match-fixing probe
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — A Malaysian national accused of being the local organizer of a syndicate that tried to rig matches in an Australian provincial football competition has been remanded in custody until Friday after his bail hearing was adjourned on Monday.
Police on Sunday took 10 people associated with the Melbourne-based Southern Stars football club into custody for questioning and charged six of them, including a coach and the club’s English goalkeeper, with match-fixing related offenses. More charges are expected in a scandal that has rocked Australian football and has links to foreign illegal gambling syndicates.
Police on Monday opposed bail for Segaran “Gerry” Gsubramaniam, saying he was an unacceptable risk of leaving Australia, and the case was adjourned until Friday, when the club’s coach and four players were also due to face Melbourne Magistrates Court.
Defense lawyer Michael Gleeson, of Michael J. Gleeson and Associates, confirmed the spelling of his client’s family name as Gsubramaniam and said he was a 45-year-old Malaysian man traveling on a tourist visa in Australia.
Gleeson said there was a presumption of bail for these charges and questioned why his client was the only person in this matter remanded in custody when others — including a foreign national — had been granted bail.
Gsubramaniam faces 10 charges, including five counts of engaging in conduct that corrupts or could corrupt the outcome of a betting event, and five charges of facilitating conduct that corrupts or could corrupt the outcome of a betting event. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail under match fixing laws introduced in April.
Gsubramaniam allegedly passed information from a foreign gambling syndicate to the coach and some players from the Southern Stars, who are running last in the Victorian Premier League.
Victoria Police Detective Acting Sergeant Scott Poynder told the court Monday that that police had used telephone intercepts and electronic surveillance to track Gsubramaniam’s conversations with people in Malaysia and Hungary.
Poynder told the court that in terms of the gambling syndicate: “on a worldwide scale (Gsubramaniam) is not the big wig, Australian wise he is.”
The match-fixing investigation was made public on Sunday when Football Federation Australia issued a statement saying 10 people from the Southern Stars had been arrested after a police investigation stemming from a tip off from Swiss-based sports and betting data intelligence agency Sportradar.
English goalkeeper, Joe Nigel Wooley along with teammate Reiss Michael Noel, both 23, and another three men face charges of facilitating conduct that could corrupt the outcome of a betting event. They were granted bail and are expected to reappear in court on Friday.
Police said the investigation had been under way since August and focused on four matches.
Southern Stars President Ercan Cicek told Australian Associated Press that he had no suspicion of alleged match-fixing, despite five players from England joining the Melbourne club at the suggestion of a man who also offered to organize sponsorship.
“Our committee members are thinking, ‘Oh beautiful, five players for free, we’re not going to pay anything, it’s a big, big bonus’. It looks like a delight for us,” said Cicek, who also said the Stars’ coach also provided his services for free this season.
In February, the Australian Crime Commission released the findings of the year-long “Project Aperio,” saying there was evidence of match-fixing in Australian sport, as well as widespread use of prohibited substances and the infiltration of organized criminal groups in the distribution of performance-enhancing drugs.