Central criminal police looking into new and broader bribery connections in Finnish football
Singapore betting fixer's connections with the Finnish game appear wider than was previously known
Hard on the heels of court judgements at the end of last week, in which two foreign-born players received suspended prison sentences for match-fixing, it now appears that international football betting cheat Wilson Raj Perumal has been in closer contact with individuals in Finnish football than was previously known publicly.
According to information obtained by Helsingin Sanomat, last winter Perumal, from Singapore, was repeatedly in contact with at least one team from the country’s second-highest football division Ykkönen (the First Division). So far this team has not been mentioned in public in connection with the betting scandal suspicions.
Perumal and a Finnish managerial-level individual from the team in question were allegedly in contact with each other on several occasions just before the Singapore man was apprehended at Helsinki-Vantaa airport in February.
But even tight communication between the two does not automatically mean that the team representative would have committed a crime or would have been planning to do so.
The ownerof the club remains somewhat tight-lipped when he is asked about the Singapore man’s connection with the team.
“I know hardly anything about this issue and I do not wish to comment on it in any way”, he says.
Has Wilson Raj Perumal been in touch with you personally?
“I know the guy, but I have nothing to say about this. We have nothing to do with such matters.”
Also Detective Superintendent Jukka Lakkala from the Rovaniemi unit of the National Bureau of Investigation (Finland’s central criminal police), who is in charge of the investigation, refused to comment on the information obtained by Helsingin Sanomat.
According to Lakkala, the criminal investigators have not yet had a chance to go through in detail all the material that has been accumulated in connection with the Perumal case.
The information yet to be scrutinised in detail may lead to new criminal investigations in Finland. The NBI will concentrate on the material once it has completed the examination of the matches of the Lapland football team Rovaniemen Palloseura (RoPS).
“A good chunk of the acquired information is of little use when it comes to the ongoing criminal investigation, but we have to go through it all not to miss anything of value”, Detective Superintendent Lakkala says.
The bribery scandal rocking the Finnish football scene has already resulted in a couple of separate branches of investigation.
On Friday the Oulu District Court gave the former AC Oulu players Dominic and Donewell Yobe seven-month suspended sentences for taking bribes.
According to the court, the two brothers of Zambian origin agreed on receiving bribes before a Veikkausliiga game between TPS Turku and AC Oulu last autumn. For their poor performance on the pitch, the two men received a combined fee of EUR 50,000.
As financial benefit from a crime, the Oulu District Court ordered the men to pay the sum in its entirety to the state.
In addition to the Yobe brothers bribery case, the NBI also suspects nine RoPS of Rovaniemi players of foreign origin of having accepted bribes from Wilson Raj Perumal.
The Singapore man remains in custody in Rovaniemi and the players have been placed under a travel ban.
With regard to the players’ doings, the criminal investigation is expected to be completed next week and with regard to Perumal’s activities with RoPS as soon as possible after that.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Match-fixing suspicions widen to cover ten Finnish football games (16.3.2011)
Finland-Bolivia football friendly was cancelled over match-fixing suspicions (10.3.2011)
Football betting scandal may escalate (18.3.2011)
Start of Veikkausliiga season may have to be postponed amidst wrangles over clubs´ eligibility (13.4.2011)