FOR someone who had just found out that he is a “person of interest” in a major match-fixing case, his reaction was surprising.
There was no shock, anger or vehement denials.
Instead, the man known to the Finnish authorities as Simon Mega was calm.
“I don’t take it as shock, it’s an amusement to me,” said the Singaporean, whose real name is Mr Meganathan Subramaniam.
His face appears in the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) bulletin in connection to Singaporean Wilson Raj Perumal’s match-fixing trial in Rovaniemi, Finland.
Mr Meganathan is alleged to have played a key role in recruiting footballers to influence matches in the Finnish league.
Mr Meganathan, 41, told The New Paper at his Sembawang Crescent flat on Wednesday night: “I know my situation, I can’t fix anything.
“You read the reports and they pay $50,000 to fix a match – I earn $50 a day driving my taxi. It’s not in my thoughts at all, how can I fix matches?
“Being an acquaintance to Wilson (Raj Perumal) has brought a lot of trouble...So this isn’t a surprise to me.”
When asked what he meant by the pitfalls of knowing Wilson Raj, he declined to elaborate.
Knew Wilson Raj
He admitted he knew Wilson Raj, who fled Singapore before ending up in Finland where he is on trial for bribing Finnish league football players.
A total of nine players – two from Georgia and seven from Zambia – have been charged with accepting bribes from him.
A total of 470,000 euros (S$830,000) in bribes was offered.
Wilson faces three charges for bribery, forgery and obstructing government officials from performing their duties.
Said Mr Meganathan: “I don’t associate with Wilson, but I know him. By the time his trial (for injuring an auxiliary police officer on May 16, 2009) was going on, we had lost touch.
“We were football kakis. He was the initial person who gave me the idea of being a player agent.
“I found players, mainly from Africa and offered them to S-League clubs. He told me if I could find players, he could find clubs for them.
“I was lured by the money. I was told I could get a cut from the players’ monthly salaries.”
But Mr Meganathan was unsuccessful. He claims that none of his players had ever been signed by a club.
He wasn’t able to pinpoint when he stopped being an agent but said he decided to give up because “I got sick and tired when the deals don’t work out”.
A Football Association of Singapore (FAS) spokesman said Mr Meganathan had never been on its list of licensed player agents. However, he highlighted that FAS did not register agents prior to October 2009.
While Mr Meganathan might not have been a licensed agent, he is in the files of the NBI.
When TNP showed Mr Meganathan a copy of the NBI bulletin where his face appeared, he confirmed that it was a picture of him taken from Facebook.
“I don’t know why my picture is there. I think they might have made a mistake,” he said.
Does he know any of the Rovaniemi FC players like Christopher Musonda who is one of those on trial?
Mr Meganathan denied knowing any of them.
But he revealed that he had been to Finland “two to three years back to meet one of the players, an acquaintance”.
He couldn’t remember the player’s name or which club he played for.
The Finnish authorities are interested in Mr Meganathan because his name appears in interviews given to police by two accused in the trial – Musonda and Wilson Raj.
Musonda, who claimed he met Mr Meganathan around August 2009, had alleged that “Simon Mega” had given him money before a match.
Wilson Raj was allegedly with Mr Meganathan at that meeting.
Musonda told Finnish police: “...he would give US$5,000 (S$6,200) just as a friend (to) go and win the match. He did not tell us how many goals we would have to score...Simon gave the money to my friend so that we could divide it between us.”
It appeared that Mr Meganathan had established himself with key figures in Rovaniemi FC.
Exchanges on Facebook obtained by Fifa indicated that Mr Meganathan knew the club’s Zambian coach Zeddy Saileti, who has also been linked to match-fixing.
Mr Meganathan had told Saileti in 2010: “meet u in finland bro.. I will explain our plan, then we go on with it...get prepared for windfall.. hehe”.
Wilson Raj’s testimony to police also alluded to Mr Meganathan’s connections with the Finnish top-flight club.
Said Wilson Raj: “I had come with a man called Simon to Rovaniemi to watch the last match of the (2009) season. Simon had good relations with Musonda and with Saileti.”
Mr Meganathan insisted that it was a misunderstanding.
“Many a time, agents have this problem, people misunderstand (our intentions),” he said.
“Even in Singapore when you are close to players, people misinterpret it.”
Musonda’s testimony to police seemed to suggest otherwise. He said that by August last year, Mr Meganathan had competition in the form of another fixer called K junior.
This person is believed to be a Singaporean financier.
Musonda told police: “The man (K junior) didn’t want Simon to make betting odds go down...I think he had some players of his own in different teams in Finland.
“That is the impression I got but I cannot say exactly...I think that man (K junior) is a match fixer, just like Simon and Wilson...”
When told that a few Rovaniemi FC players “were doing business” with Mr Meganathan, K junior had allegedly told them “not to do business with Simon any more but with him only”.
Lapland district prosecutor Maija Mononen has been quoted in the Daily Telegraph as saying that “there were three other suspected match-fixers involved in the Rovaniemi case, but investigators had not been able to establish their identities”.
A probe into “Simon Mega’s” activities and identity would be important, said Mr Chris Eaton, Fifa’s head of security.
He told The New Paper over the phone last night: “Simon Mega’s name has been mentioned by both Wilson and Musonda. We can’t deny that he had a part in the illegal activities.
“But what we need to know more is the true extent of Simon Mega’s match-fixing and influence so that measures can be put in place to prevent future attempts.”
Mr Meganathan said that the Finnish authorities, Interpol and the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) had not contacted him.
He said: “If it involves me, I’ll see how I’m involved. Things have to be straight and clear (about what I have done wrong), right?”
Asked if he would be attempting to clear his name in this “misunderstanding”, he said no, before adding: “As long as my conscience is clear, it’s okay.”