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     FrontPage Edition: Sat 1 December 2007

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Police arrest 20 persons for illegal soccer betting activities


SPF-Interpol Operations Against Illegal Soccer Betting Activities

Between 24 October to 18 November 2007, Singapore police conducted a series of island-wide raids targeted at illegal soccer bookmaking activities and arrested a total of 20 persons for illegal soccer bookmaking and gambling activities.
In addition, 86 computers, 2 laptops, 2 modems and cash amounting to twenty-four thousand dollars were seized.
These raids were part of “Operation SOGA” (short for Soccer Gambling) consisting of simultaneous operations against illegal soccer betting conducted in several Asian countries and coordinated by Interpol’s Operation Secretariat.
The operations were timed to coincide with the major soccer seasons. Planning for action against illegal soccer betting activities commenced in early June 2007 when senior officers from the various law enforcement agencies in Asia gathered together to discuss strategies on how to deal with the situation.
Arising from this meeting, members formed an Expert Group comprising members from seven countries: China, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
The Expert Group provides a regional cooperation platform against illegal soccer bookmaking and gambling activities. Its objectives are to coordinate the exchange of intelligence and enhance the capabilities of the law enforcement officers with a view to cripple the illegal activities posed by these bookmakers.
Once the Expert Group was established, it worked quickly to streamline the operation against the illegal soccer gambling activities in Asia which was split into 3 phases.
Phase 1 consisted of the participating countries’ officers discussing the coordination and operational details, culminating in the endorsement of an Operational Agreement.
Phase 2 involved training to enhance capacity building and intelligence gathering capabilities in August 2007.
These culminated in the countries’ anti-illegal soccer betting operations carried out in Phase 3. The amount of bets involved across all participating countries for Operation SOGA was US$680 million.
Persons convicted for acting as a bookmaker face a fine of not less than $20,000 and not more than $200,000 and a maximum jail term of 5 years. Persons convicted for betting with an illegal bookmaker face a maximum fine of $5,000 or a maximum jail term of 6 months.
Increasingly, soccer betting has become one of the more popular forms of gambling activity amongst Singaporeans. While there are numerous legitimate avenues for soccer betting, some people still prefer to place bets with the illegal soccer bookmakers.
Assistant Director, Specialised Crime Division, Criminal Investigation Department, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Wong Choong Mann said, "The close cooperation between the different countries makes this operation possible and a success. Criminals should not think that the police are not able to coordinate our intelligence and enforcement efforts just because we live in different borders. We urge the public not to bet with these illegal bookmakers and the police will not hesitate to take strong enforcement action against such illegal activities."
23 November 2007 at 10am

Source: Media Release 23 Nov 2007

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