SINGAPORE - Three leaders of a local organised criminal group operated two gambling websites, and in less than two years, it had collected $97.68 million in revenue from one of the platforms.
One of the leaders, Seet Seo Boon, earned a profit of at least $19,000 per month from the collection of bets through the two websites.
Deputy Public Prosecutors Dwayne Lum, Chong Yong and Lee Wei Liang said that he was "behind one of the most profitable and elusive illegal remote gambling syndicates which thrived under the cloak of technology for half a decade".
On Wednesday (Dec 8), the 57-year-old Singaporean pleaded guilty to seven charges for offences that include those under the Organised Crime Act, as well as for dealing with the benefits of his ill-gotten gains.
Fifty-four other charges will be considered during sentencing.
The cases involving the other two men - his brothers Seet Seow Huat, 66, and Seet Sian Thian, 73 - are still pending.
The Organised Crime Act - aimed at fighting crime syndicates - was passed in Parliament in 2015 and took effect in June 2016.
Seet Seo Boon was arrested in 2016 in a crackdown on criminal syndicates. He had earlier appeared in court in 2017 and was among the first people to be charged under the Act.
The prosecutors said that Seet Seo Boon and his brothers decided to set up their own remote gambling website in 2011 to facilitate the collection of illegal 4D bets from agents and punters.
With his brothers' help, he recruited and instructed at least 49 shareholders, agents and administrative staff, who in turn recruited other agents and collected illegal bets from punters.
The DPPs said: "In this manner, the accused meticulously organised and expanded the syndicate's operations, successfully turning it into a profitable, money-making enterprise, with its estimated ill-gotten revenue exceeding ($1 million) per week."
Seet Seo Boon recruited a Malaysian man known only as "Guo Zhi" to help create the online betting platform launched in mid-2011.
The brothers also actively encouraged the members of the organised criminal group to refer and recruit other members.
They avoided detection from the authorities by interviewing the prospective members personally, and accepting only suitable candidates who agreed to their terms.
A second remote gambling website was later launched in 2013. Investigations revealed that Seet Seo Boon was its administrator and owner.
The DPPs said: "There was no one else above the position of an owner of the (second) website. As the owner, the accused had the power to register new betting accounts and to recruit agents and shareholders."
The shareholders, including his brothers, were given betting accounts and access to the website. They were also allowed to register their bets on the website.
Seet Seo Boon later earned a 15 per cent commission from the total value of bets placed through both websites.
He also earned an additional 5 to 10 per cent from the total winnings arising from his agents' and punters' bets.
The court heard that he had bought an apartment in a River Valley condominium for more than $1.7 million in 2007.
From January 2013 to February 2015, he used more than $156,000 of his ill-gotten gains to settle the monthly instalments for the mortgage taken for the unit.
Acting on information, police later went to his other home in a Tampines condominium on Nov 27, 2016, and arrested him.
On Wednesday, the prosecutors urged the court to sentence Seet Seo Boon to up to 12 years and five months' jail and a fine of $720,000.
They added: "There is a critical need to impose a deterrent sentence as the prevalence of remote gambling offences is exacerbated by the global demand for illegal remote gambling."
Seet Seo Boon is represented by lawyers Josephus Tan and Cory Wong from Invictus Law Corporation.
Pleading for their client to be sentenced to not more than eight years' jail with a maximum fine of $235,000, the lawyers said: "He had cooperated extensively with the authorities and had come clean with all the offending details."
Seet Seo Boon is now out on bail of $50,000 and will be sentenced on Jan 19 next year.