SINGAPORE, April 4- Three Lebanese soccer referees were charged Thursday for receiving sexual bribes in exchange for fixing a match in Singapore, the government’s anti-corruption bureau said.
Referee Ali Sabbagh, and assistants Ali Eid and Abdallah Taleb, were charged before a district court for “corruptly” receiving sexual gratification “as an inducement” to fix the match they were to officiate Wednesday, court documents showed.
The charge sheets said the three committed an offence punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The three had been due to officiate in Tampines Rovers’ AFC Cup fixture with East Bengal when they were abruptly dropped and questioned by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).
Replacement officials were brought in for the game, which was won 4-2 by the Indian team.
CPIB said in a statement Thursday they had acted on “prior information of match fixing” involving the three referees.
“Subsequent investigations revealed that the trio corruptly received gratification… in the form of free sexual service from three females,” the CPIB said in a statement.
“Singapore has always adopted a zero tolerance approach towards corruption, and match fixing of any form is not condoned in Singapore,” it said.
The CPIB added that it “investigates into match-fixing through bribery cases and will not hesitate to take action against any parties involved if they had given or received bribes to fix a match”.
Singapore has a long record of match-fixing scandals and criminals from the tiny but wealthy Southeast Asian country have been blamed by Europol for orchestrating an international network responsible for rigging hundreds of games worldwide.
In February, Singapore came under pressure to act against the cartels, whose activities fuel illegal gambling estimated to be worth billions of dollars, when the head of Interpol called for the arrest of an alleged ringleader.
Singapore police later said the suspect, Tan Seet Eng or Dan Tan, was assisting investigations, but he was not arrested or charged with any crime.