Court convicts trio for misappropriating $875,133 from MBS casino

(From left) Shaikh Farid, lawyer Sarbrinder Singh and Shaikh Shabana Bi leave the State Court on Nov 7, 2016.
(From left) Shaikh Farid, lawyer Sarbrinder Singh and Shaikh Shabana Bi leave the State Court on Nov 7, 2016. PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

SINGAPORE - Three casino patrons, all members of its loyalty programme, were found guilty and convicted on Monday (Nov 7) of misappropriating $875,133 from the Marina Bay Sands casino by a district judge who found the prosecution had proven all charges against them.

China national Ho Man Yuk, 37, and Indian nationals Shaikh Farid, 41, and Shaikh Shabana Bi, 33, had conspired to use free play credits which Ho Man Yuk was not entitled to, in order to play in the casino in April 2014.

Monday's open court verdict was in contrast to the 20-day trial heard in camera in periods over several months from July last year, involving nearly 30 witnesses, including two experts.

District Judge Luke Tan had ordered the trial sessions behind closed doors as the case was understood to involve sensitive information about the casino's operations.

Ho, a Hong Kong-based businesswoman, was found guilty of 20 additional charges under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes ( Confiscation of Benefits) Act (CDSA).

These included remitting sums from the proceeds to others and converting the cash into gaming chips on several occasions, involving a total value of $443,900.

Farid was also found guilty and convicted of 26 other charges under CDSA involving some $1.4 million which included using $100,000 used for gaming chips on April 19, 2014, and remitting $300,000 to one Cham Fui How the following day.

Shabana was convicted of three other charges under the CDSA, having transferred about $12,900 to three other persons from the proceeds.

Deputy Public Prosecutors Ang Siok Chen and Haniza Abnass had argued among other things, the CDSA charges related to benefits from the trio's criminal conduct in misappropriating the $875,133.

They added that the trio had obtained $875,133 by gambling with the free play credits at the Roulette Electronic Gaming Machines (EGMs). The accused had detected an error in the system but instead of informing anyone, they had taken advantage to dishonestly download as many free play credits as possible and used them at EGMs to make nearly $1 million, and would have continued if not discovered by MBS, said the prosecution.

Farid and Shabana are self-employed company directors and shareholders.

All three, defended by Sanders Law LLC lawyer Sarbrinder Singh, had claimed trial to maintain their innocence, arguing they were not aware of a system glitch at the casino.

They denied knowing the free play credit was limited to $100 on Ho's membership account.

MBS had alleged a system error over seven days in 2014 in the free play credit and Sands Bonus Dollars package for eligible members had led to some $1.029 million wrongly credited to Ho, which was used to place wagers at the Roulette EGMs, which led to $875,133.56 being paid to her.

Ho claimed she was lucky and kept on winning while the other two denied conspiring with her to cheat MBS Casino.

All three were extended bail set at $20,000 each till sentencing, which the judge set for next month.

Ho,who was unable to post bail, was remanded.

vijayan@sph.com.sg