Match-fixing suspect detained in Milan
Ronald Noble of Interpol speaking to the media during a conference on matchfixing in Kuala Lumpur today. Photograph: Samsul Said/Reuters
An associate of soccer match-fixing suspect Tan Seet Eng has been detained at Milan airport this morning, following a tip-off by Singapore authorities to Italian police.
"Admir Sulic, who arrived today at Milan's Malpensa airport from Singapore on the 6 am flight, has been detained by Italian police," one judicial source told Reuters. A second source confirmed Mr Sulic had been arrested.
Interpol chief Ronald Noble said the man is wanted by the Italian authorities for his alleged involvement in match-fixing under the organisation based in Singapore and controlled by Tan Seet Eng.
Speaking at a conference on combating match-fixing in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, Mr Noble said the suspected associate, who is not a Singapore national, was arriving on a flight from Singapore and would be detained at Milan airport. He declined to give further details.
A joint inquiry by Europol, the European anti-crime agency, and national prosecutors has identified about 680 suspicious matches including qualifying games for the World Cup and European Championships, and for Europe's Champions League.
Italian prosecutors have accused Mr Tan, also known as Dan Tan, of heading an organisation to fix soccer matches worldwide and Italian police have issued an arrest warrant for him.
Interpol has declined to say if it has declared the Singapore national to be an internationally wanted person, but an Italian judicial source said Interpol had pooled together investigations launched by authorities in various countries including Italy, Germany, Spain and Turkey.
Singapore says he is not wanted there, but that it is working with European authorities investigating the syndicate. Singapore police said last week it was sending officers to Interpol to assist in the investigation and that the city-state remained "highly committed" in the fight against match-fixing.
Singapore allows suspects to be sent only to countries with which it has an extradition treaty. Germany has such a treaty with Singapore but Italy, which made the original complaint about matchfixers manipulating Italian games, does not.
Mr Noble had previously told Singapore's Straits Times newspaper it would be unfortunate if Singapore's "well-earned anti-crime reputation" suffered from the allegations.
The Interpol investigation has shone a spotlight on what experts say is rampant match-fixing in Asia, where lax regulation combined with a huge betting market have made soccer a prime target for crime syndicates.
Last year the head of an anti-corruption watchdog estimated that $1 trillion was gambled on sport each year - or $3 billion a day - with most coming from Asia and wagered on soccer matches.