Mali-born Gaye Alassane, who is set to be stripped of his Singapore citizenship, has been linked to an international match-fixing syndicate for some years now.
He appeared on the radar screen around 2009, when he was allegedly caught offering bribes to footballers from Deportivo Arabe Unido, a club from Panama, to lose a Concacaf Champions League match that was to be played in Panama City that year.
Then sporting dreadlocks and donning a jacket that said "Mali" on the back, Alassane was secretly photographed in a hotel room in El Salvador allegedly offering €100,000 to the players to lose the match. He had an unidentified accomplice with him.
The former S-League player said he was a Singaporean, investigators from Latin America and world football governing body Fifa revealed to this reporter in 2011 .
The investigation dossier - containing e-mails, photographs, wire-transfer account numbers and interview transcripts - later seen by The Straits Times revealed that Alassane was actually being investigated for attempting to fix two Concacaf Champions League matches involving the same team. The second time was in Salt Lake City in the United States in 2010.
When ST confronted Alassane with the allegations following the media report, he denied any wrongdoing to this reporter, claiming he was a businessman and was in both cities on holiday.
Then sporting dreadlocks and donning a jacket that said 'Mali' on the back, Alassane was secretly photographed in a hotel room in El Salvador allegedly offering €100,000 to the players to lose the match. He had an unidentified accomplice with him.
He said then: "I was there (El Salvador) in 2009 for a holiday... (and) I was in Salt Lake City to meet my friend. I watched a football match, but I never talked to any football player."
His name came up again after an investigation was launched in El Salvador following the country's 5-0 loss to Mexico in the 2011 Gold Cup.
Alassane had allegedly wired money on Jan 4, 2011, to six Salvadorean footballers as a "Christmas bonus".
In September 2013, he was among 14 syndicate members detained by the authorities in Singapore for international match-fixing activities spanning Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.
He spent two years and three months in detention under the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act.
Meanwhile, investigators here, which included officers from the Criminal Investigation Department, pieced together the extent of Alassane's involvement as a representative of Exclusive Sports, a business entity previously named Football Four U International.
The company was owned by convicted match-fixer and fugitive from Singapore Wilson Raj Perumal. He remains in Hungary, where he was a prosecution witness in a match-fixing trial in the country.
Alleged mastermind and financier Dan Tan Seet Eng, who is still being held in detention without trial in Singapore, was one of the directors of the company.
Integrity and security consultant Michael Pride said Alassane was also "active" during the 2010 pre-World Cup international friendlies in South Africa.
Mr Pride was responsible for breaking up Wilson Raj's syndicate in the UK Conference League, which resulted in the arrest of Singaporean Chann San-karan in Britain.
Mr Terry Steans, who closely followed the trail left by match-fixers from Singapore when he was Fifa's global investigator, described Alassane, 43, as a "peripheral figure in match-fixing investigations".
Speaking to ST yesterday, he said: "In stripping Gaye's citizenship, Singapore has shown it will not tolerate those who stain its reputation."Ex-playerfirstcaughtinvestigators2009