Man sentenced to 22 months in jail for hiring scapegoats for illegal gambling houses

SINGAPORE - A man was sentenced to 22 months in jail on Monday for hiring scapegoats for a gambling house operator.

Abdul Haleem Abdul Majeed, 47, pleaded guilty to 17 charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Another 51 charges were taken into consideration.

Between 2005 and 2007, Abdul Haleem received $109,360 from Chua Chin Hoe, a syndicate head operating a chain of illegal gambling houses.

Chua ran his illegal gambling business in unlicensed jackpot machine outlets and Internet cafes and hired people to register as owners of the cafes. These scapegoats would be paid a fixed sum of money every month and were promised a single large payout if they had to serve a jail term for Chua.

Chua contacted Abdul Haleem, whom he had known since the 1990s, whenever he needed such a scapegoat.

Typically Chua paid Abdul Haleem $400 for each outlet per month, and $5,000 per charge if the scapegoat was arrested. Of the $109,360 he received, he paid $26,600 to the scapegoats and pocketed $82,760.

In 2012, Chua was sentenced to four-and-a-half years' jail and fined $20,000 for corruption, as he had bribed police officers.

Abdul Haleem was charged in July last year.

His lawyer Andrew Yeo asked for a lighter sentence, noting that he was never involved in running any of the illegal gambling outlets. He added that Abdul Haleem was the sole breadwinner of his family and the main caregiver to his three sons aged between 10 and 12. He was also caring for his father who suffered from dementia.

Judge Low Wee Ping sentenced him to 22 months in jail. He will also have to pay a penalty of $82,760, the amount which he had pocketed. Due to his family situation, the jail term will begin from March 30.