A Singaporean and several foreigners have been arrested on suspicion of trying to fix football matches at the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games), the city-state’s anti-corruption agency said Friday. 

The 36-sport biennial Southeast Asian Games was set to kick off informally late Friday with group stagefootball ties ahead of the opening ceremony on June 5 at the National Stadium of Singapore. 

In a statement, the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) said it had been “proactively monitoring football match-fixing activities” and acted on information it received to arrest “a Singaporean alleged match-fixer and several co-conspirators of different nationalities.”

“Some members from the Timor Leste SEA Gamesfootball team are also assisting the Bureau in its investigations,” the CPIB said.

The agency did not provide further details about the suspects arrested or those being investigated. 

It said the suspects were being probed under the city-state’s tough Prevention of Corruption Act. 

The swoop follows a string of match-fixing scandals which have tarnished the wealthy, gambling-mad island’s reputation for clean government and low crime.   

Singaporean businessman Eric Ding is currently serving a five-year jail sentence for providing prostitutes to Lebanese football referees in a bid to influence international matches in April 2013. 

In September 2013, police detained 14 people believed to be members of a global match-fixing syndicate, including the suspected mastermind Dan Tan.

Tan, also known as Tan Seet Eng, is currently being held under a law that allows for indefinite detention, which is typically used against key gangsters.

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 with the support of external investors, most believed to be from China.

The SEA Games, which Singapore is hosting for the first time since 1993, involve all 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations — Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam — plus East Timor which first participated in the Games in 2003 and is also known as Timor Leste. – Agence France-Presse

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