HELSINKI — A Singapore man at the heart of a soccer match-fixing investigation in Finland was convicted Tuesday of bribery, forgery and illegal border crossing and sentenced to two years in prison.
The verdict against Wilson Raj Perumal and nine players from the local team in Rovaniemi, near the Arctic Circle, highlighted the global reach of billion-dollar betting scams that have rocked the sport this year.
The Lapland District court said Perumal netted about $210,000 for fixing results in Finnish league matches from 2008-11. He is also suspected by the world governing body FIFA of fixing international games involving African and Asian national teams.
Perumal was arrested in February after having entered Finland with a fake passport. He was accused of being a central figure in a match-fixing scam that focused on the local team in the northern town of Rovaniemi.
In the ruling Tuesday, the court also handed suspended sentences ranging from six months to 20 months to seven Zambian and two Georgian players of the Rovaniemi team for accepting bribes to affect the outcome of matches.
The court said 24 Rovaniemi matches were fixed, and that Perumal's involvement was proven in seven of them. It also said he fixed two other Finnish league matches, involving the Oulu and Mariehamn teams.
Prosecutors have said three other match-fixers were involved in the Rovaniemi case, but they haven't been able to establish their identities.
It wasn't immediately clear whether Perumal, who had confessed to some of the charges, would appeal. Defense lawyer Pertti Poykko said Perumal didn't wish to comment the verdict.