Man pleads guilty to graft involving fixing basketball matches in Thailand
A man worked with a friend to fix basketball matches in Thailand and played an integral role in an arrangement to bribe professional players.
The prosecution said Poh Wei Hao, 30, conspired with Koa Wei Quan to give a $1,000 bribe to Filipino basketball player Almond Pineda Vosotros.
Separately, Deputy Public Prosecutor Bryan Wong told the court that the two Singaporeans also worked together to offer Vosotros a bribe of US$1,500 (S$2,010).
On Nov 22, Poh pleaded guilty to two charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act. The case involving Koa, 33, is pending.
Poh and Koa met each other in 2009 when they were professional basketball players for the same local club. The DPP did not disclose details about the club.
DPP Wong said that in either 2017 or 2018, Koa discovered that Poh was also placing illegal sporting bets online like him.
Koa told Poh that he knew foreign basketball players who could be engaged to “fix” matches in which they were playing.
“Match fixing would increase the likelihood of Koa and Poh winning their online bets and making a profit, as they would be placing bets for match outcomes that were already agreed with the players involved,” added the prosecutor.
Poh agreed to the plan.
There were at least two types of sporting bets that Poh and Koa could place online, the court heard.
The first involved placing a bet for a particular team to win or lose by a certain score margin. The margin was known as the “spread”.
The second involved betting on whether the total score of the two competing teams would be “over” or “under” a certain number that was predicted by the betting website. This number was known as the “line”.
If the total score was higher than the predicted number, or the line, then the “over” bet wins.
Conversely, if the total score was lower than the line, the “under” bet wins. These bets could be placed before a match, or during the match itself.
DPP Wong said the two Singaporeans discussed fixing matches in the Thailand Basketball League (TBL) with two Filipino players – Vosotros and Leonidez Zapata Avenido.
At the time, Vosotros was playing for the Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) club, while Avenido was playing for Bangkok Tigers.
“Leonidez had introduced Almond to Koa and Poh. These discussions were mainly conducted over a Facebook group conversation created by Koa, which involved the four of them,” said the DPP.
Court documents stated that some time on or before July 1, 2018, Koa and Vosotros separately agreed that the latter would help fix a TBL match in which the PEA took on Mono Vampire.
DPP Wong told the court: “Koa understood that Almond would be ‘doing under’, by which PEA would lose its match by a certain score. It was also agreed that Almond would receive $1,000 for helping to fix the match.”
Vosotros played in the match and his team lost on July 1, 2018.
The prosecution said Koa handed some money to Poh who went to Bangkok and passed $1,000 to Vosotros six days later.
DPP Wong also said that on July 7, 2018, Koa and Poh discussed with the two players to fix another match.
He added: “It was agreed that Almond would help fix the match to be ‘under 165’, by which the total score of both teams, or line, was expected to be below 165.
“In return, Almond requested for US$1,500 for successfully fixing the match. Poh, acting on Koa’s agreement, replied to accept Almond’s offer.”
Poh later told Vosotros that the deal was off as Koa and Poh were unable to place a match bet for their desired line, said the DPP.
Poh is expected to be sentenced on Dec 6.
For each graft charge, an offender can be jailed for up to five years and fined up to $100,000.