HELSINKI (AP) — Convicted match-fixer Wilson Raj Perumal is being held by Finnish police on an international arrest warrant, two years after the Singaporean was jailed in the Nordic country for bribing Finnish league players, officials said Wednesday.
Detective Superintendent Jari Nieminen of the National Bureau of Investigation said Perumal was arrested last week and that officers were examining the warrant before deciding on further action. He declined to make any further comment.
It was not clear when Perumal arrived in Finland or whether he was suspected of any further illegal activity in this country.
Finnish Football Association spokesman Sami Terava said police had informed them of Perumal's arrest.
"The positive thing is that police have caught him for whatever reason," Terava told The Associated Press. "We were tipped off that he's been in Finland during recent days."
Terava said the FFA has "a very good exchange of information" with the police and local clubs in Finland, where the league season began on April 6.
"There hasn't been a single game played in Finland this year where alarm bells have sounded. There hasn't been any indication of irregular betting in any of our games," he said.
Perumal was arrested in 2011 after a tipoff by another Singaporean while using a false passport in the small town of Rovaniemi, near the Arctic Circle. He had been bribing nine players in a local team and was charged with bribery and match-fixing.
He was found guilty a year later by Lapland District Court and given a two-year jail sentence — though as a first-time offender he only served part of that sentence. He was also convicted of forgery, trying to flee from officials guarding him and netting more than $200,000 for fixing Finnish league matches from 2008-11. The scam focused on the RoPS team from Rovaniemi.
High on FIFA's most wanted suspects, the case helped lift the veil on the shadowy and lucrative world of fixing football matches in betting scams. FIFA linked Perumal to a conspiracy to fix matches in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe and Central and South America.
Realizing he had been betrayed by his criminal accomplices, Perumal took revenge by giving details of an illegal international betting syndicate he belonged to. He also revealed rare and invaluable details on international match-fixing and bribery entailing hundreds of games and millions of dollars.
He claimed to have paid off footballers in Syria and Africa and spoke of fixes in the United States, Bahrain and South America.
FIFA described it as a breakthrough in its global fight against match-fixing and illegal betting, and highlighted the reach of the billion-dollar betting scams that have rocked the sport.
Before Finland, Perumal had been in and out of jail in Singapore. In 2010, he was given a five-year sentence, reportedly for injuring a police officer. He appealed but then skipped town. In his prison letters, Perumal said he then lived unnoticed in London while on the run, taking daily jogs around Wembley Stadium and attending Premier League matches on weekends.
On his release from jail in Finland, Perumal was extradited to Hungary, where he was a "controlled informant" under house arrest.