First organised crime group prosecuted in Singapore: six charged in court
New law applied for the first time against members of a US$18.4 million illegal gambling syndicate
By Valerie Koh
A new law in Singapore to deal with organised crime activities was invoked for the first time on against six alleged members of a gambling racket that had amassed more than S$25 million (US$18.4 million) in illicit proceeds.
Among the six hauled to court for offences under the Organised Crime Act was the purported syndicate leader, 53-year-old Seet Seo Boon, who faces 61 charges, including for receiving around S$17.3 million (US$12.75 million) in illegal bets between January 2013 and November 2016. His co-accused, comprising four men and one woman aged between 51 and 67, are accused of acting as runners or agents of the racket.
All six are among the 49 persons the police arrested in a crackdown in November last year. About S$25.5 million (US$18.79 million), believed to be criminal proceeds, has been seized from this group.
Police said in a release on Wednesday that the syndicate had provided illegal gambling services and facilities “extensively”.
So far, another 11 from this group has been charged with offences under the Remote Gambling Act, a 2015 statute that outlaws punting via the Internet or phone unless the service is provided by exempted operators, such as Singapore Pools.
Under the Organised Crime Act, which came into force in June last year, it is an offence to be a member of an organised crime group, recruit others to join the group, or instruct others to commit offences for the group.
It was not stated how long this syndicate has been around. But Seet, the purported gang leader, owns multiple properties, investigations show. He allegedly spent around S$1.2 million (US$0.88 million) in criminal proceeds on down-payment and mortgages for 10 residential properties across Singapore.
His alleged underlings charged on Thursday face between three and seven charges.
Seah Ee Lam, 67, has seven charges relating to being part of an organised crime group and remote gambling.
See Chye Huat, 51, and Or Poh Soon, 55, have four charges each.
See allegedly acted as a runner for the group, handling nearly S$12 million (US$8.84 million) worth of ill-gotten gains between January 2013 and November 2016.
Or is said to have facilitated remote gambling, receiving illegal bets amounting to S$3,672.80 (US$2,706.76) between February 2015 and November 2016.
Toh Hee Choye and Lim Poi Hwa, both 62, face five and three charges, respectively.
Toh is accused of placing illegal bets worth nearly S$17,000 (US$12,528) on 4D between January and November last year.
Lim, the only woman among them, allegedly received S$8,245.80 (US$6,076.94) in bets from June 2015 to November 2016, according to court documents.
The six will return to court for a pre-trial conference on November 23.