A Singaporean businessman accused by Interpol of running a global football match-fixing ring was freed on appeal Wednesday after more than two years of detention, state prosecutors said.

Dan Tan, who was arrested in September 2013 and held under a special law allowing detention without trial, was set free after the Court of Appeal ruled that he posed no danger to public safety and order.

The Attorney-General’s Chambers, which handles prosecutions of criminal cases, told AFP it “will study carefully the Court of Appeal’s written grounds of decision before determining any course of action”.

Singapore authorities had invoked the law, normally used against gangsters, to arrest Tan due to the difficulty of finding evidence and witnesses against him. Such detentions are subject to annual review by the minister of home affairs.

The Straits Times newspaper quoted Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon as saying that there was nothing to suggest that Tan’s alleged overseas match-fixing activities jeopardised public safety, peace and good order in Singapore.

The three-judge appeals court is the highest judicial power in Singapore.

The 51-year-old Tan, also known as Tan Seet Eng, had filed a legal challenge against his detention nearly one year after his arrest. 

After the arrest, then Interpol chief Ronald Noble said the Singapore-based ring allegedly run by Tan was the world’s “largest and most aggressive match-fixing syndicate, with tentacles reaching every continent”.

Noble said the global match-fixing industry generates billions of dollars a year in revenues. 

Singapore has a long history of match-fixing scandals, a stain on its reputation for having one of the world’s least corrupt governments and business sectors.

In a book about Singapore’s deep links with global match-fixing, local investigative journalist Zaihan Mohamed Yusof said authorities swooped on Tan’s gang after uncovering plans to rig qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Experts have said that easy international transport, a passport accepted around the world and fluency in English and Mandarin have helped Singaporean fixers spread their influence abroad with the support of external investors, most believed to be from China. – Agence France-Presse

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