Man hired scapegoats for gambling business

Tan Aik Kim in 2012 when he was first hauled to court for giving bribes totalling $64,500 to several scapegoats to take the rap for operating illegal gaming houses. He committed the offences between 2004 and 2007. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Tan Aik Kim in 2012 when he was first hauled to court for giving bribes totalling $64,500 to several scapegoats to take the rap for operating illegal gaming houses. He committed the offences between 2004 and 2007. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

He gets jail for offering them $64,500 in bribes to take the rap during raids

Tan Aik Kim, 53, ran illegal gambling houses, and a key part of his operations was to have a steady stream of scapegoats.

He needed downtrodden folk to take the rap whenever his outlets were raided. And he found several, ever eager for a retainer.

For more than three years, businessman Tan offered bribes totalling $64,500 to these scapegoats and was jailed for 27 weeks yesterday.

He was charged with 102 counts of bribery two years ago and pleaded guilty to 13 offences committed in 2006 and 2007.

A district court heard that Tan, then director of Prime Technologies Investment, started several gaming outlets in 2001.

He started hunting for scapegoats. That year, he met his national service mate Koh Cheok Heng, who was in financial difficulties.

Tan asked him if he would be willing to assume criminal liability for illegal gaming outlets in the event of a police raid, in exchange for a monthly fee of $500.

After his friend agreed, Tan told him to register as the owner of the company Starmax Entertainment. Tan then installed jackpot machines in five illegal gaming outlets, which came under Starmax.

He continued his search for more scapegoats, offering each between $500 and $2,000 a month to take the rap should the place be raided. Most of his targets were those who were jobless and in debt.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Asoka Markandu, who said 10 illegal gaming outlets were involved, told the court: "There is public disquiet in the operation of illegal gaming houses which promote gaming and intend to be run as Internet surfing services or billiard saloons to give an aura of legitimacy."

elena@sph.com.sg