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SBD Global/April 9, 2013/International Football

Singaporean Businessman Charged In Referees Sexual Bribes Case

Businessman Eric Ding Si Yang "has been charged with three counts of corruption" relating to the sexual bribes case involving three Lebanese football match officials, according to Kevin Lim of REUTERS. Ding, described by local media as a Singaporean bookmaker, will "appear before the judge on Tuesday." On Wednesday, FIFA-recognized referee Ali Sabbagh and assistants Ali Eid and Abdallah Taleb "will appear in court where they can request bail or enter a plea against the charge of corruptly receiving gratification to fix a match." Eid missed Friday's initial hearing as he suffered an "episode" in detention and was under observation in a Singapore hospital, but the attorney general's office said that he was "brought before the judge on Monday" (REUTERS, 4/8).

'SHOCKED AND SURPRISED': The Hong Kong STANDARD reported Singapore's Sunday Times said that Ding "spends most of his time in Bangkok but has stakes in a restaurant and nightclub in Singapore." He is "known to have a passion for fast cars and drives an Aston Martin Vantage." Ding was "a football tipster" with local tabloid The New Paper from '06 -12. If convicted, Ding "faces a maximum prison term of five years or a fine" of up to S$100,000 ($80,500), or both penalties for each charge (STANDARD, 4/8). BLOOMBERG's Tan & Panja reported Lebanese FA President Hachem Haydar said he was "shocked and surprised" by events in Singapore. Haydar: "Of course I know them. They are some of the excellent referees here. They are good referees, they have a good performance and their attitude is very good. We are all surprised that something happened" (BLOOMBERG, 4/5).

COURT CONFUSION: In Singapore, Khushwant Singh reported the Lebanese FA "has hired a lawyer from Drew & Napier to defend its three referees" in the match-fixing case. However, even that "was not a straightforward matter, with one of the men initially rejecting" the services of lawyer Gary Low in court on Friday, while another "could not give his assent as he had landed in hospital." Assistant referee Abdallah Taleb "initially said no" to Low, as he thought that the lawyer "had been appointed by the Lebanese government." He "changed his mind after District Judge Kamala Ponnampalam told him that the appointment had been made by his country's football association" (STRAITS TIMES, 4/8).
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