Singapore: Three Lebanese referees charged with corruption for allegedly accepting sexual favours to fix a football match in Singapore were remanded in custody on Friday until their bail petition is heard.
Referee Ali Sabbagh, 34, and assistants Ali Eid, 33, and Abdallah Taleb, 37, were brought to court one day after being arrested by Singapore anti-corruption agents on charges that could land them in jail for up to five years.
The trio had been due to officiate in Singapore-based Tampines Rovers' AFC Cup fixture with Indian club East Bengal on Wednesday when they were abruptly dropped and questioned by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).
They face a maximum prison term of five years or a fine not exceeding Sg$100,000 ($81,000) or both, under the Prevention of Corruption Act, after being charged with the offence on Thursday.
Ali Eid fell ill before he could appear before the judge and was brought to a hospital for observation. The two others were remanded to Changi prison, where the stricken Lebanese will also be brought after he recovers.
A representative from Lebanon's consulate attended the hearing.
Sabbagh and Taleb will appear in court again on Wednesday when bail and their pleas are expected to be discussed, while the third referee was ordered to be in court on Monday.
State prosecutors opposed bail, saying the three belonged to a syndicate, but district court judge Kamala Ponnampalam ruled the offence was bailable.
The CPIB said in a statement on Thursday that it 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," CPIB said.
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 a 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.