Jailed for hiring fake gambling cafe owners

SINGAPORE - A 51-year-old man who bribed two others to take the rap for his accomplice's illegal gaming operation was on Tuesday sentenced to four weeks in jail.

Pak Lian Huat pleaded guilty to giving $500 each to Stephen Low Teck Khwee and Thanabal Sokalingam Thambusamy for them to pretend that they were running illegal gambling cafes in Bedok.

In fact, it was Cheh Back Hai, 64, who had been operating the outlets disguised as Internet cafes when authorities found out about them in 2007.

The court heard on Tuesday that Pak and Cheh became acquainted when they were both working in the renovation industry.

Cheh was then running more than a dozen illegal Internet gambling cafes outlets across Singapore. Deputy Public Prosecutor Haniza Abnass said Cheh hired several scapegoats to register as owners of the cafes to prevent authorities from discovering that he was behind the illegal operation.

He paid them $500 a month.

In 2006, Pak was approached by Cheh to invest in his gambling cafes in exchange for 40 per cent of the profits. Pak took up the offer. Both agreed that they would engage fall guys to assume criminal liability in case the cafes were raided.

Pleading for leniency, Pak's lawyer, Mr Ravinderpal Singh, said his client was the sole breadwinner of his family and was also taking care of his aged parents.

He also said Cheh played the major role in the crimes. Last year, Cheh was sentenced to four months on five charges with 41 others taken into consideration.

Low was jailed for four months and ordered to pay a penalty of $9,500, while Thanabal got 12 weeks' jail and was ordered to pay a penalty of $4,000.