SINGAPORE - For several years, a group of Singaporeans allegedly ran an illegal gambling syndicate - including their own version of public lotteries - while staying one step ahead of the law.
Yesterday, they faced a new law aimed at fighting crime syndicates and became the first people to be charged under the Organised Crime Act (OCA).
The group of six, led by 53-year-old Seet Seo Boon, were among 49 people arrested last year in a crackdown on criminal syndicates. Some $25.5 million, believed to be proceeds from crime, has been seized from this group.
Yesterday, more details of their operations emerged after the authorities invoked OCA, which gives enforcement agencies more powers to disrupt the activities of organised crime groups and seeks to stop them from getting a foothold in Singapore.
Seet, alone, was accused of receiving more than $17 million from illegal gaming activities.
He is said to have spent at least $1.2 million of this for mortgage and downpayments on 11 apartments in nine different condominiums - including The Tropica in Tampines Avenue 1 and Urbana in River Vally Close.
In all, he faced 61 charges - including 38 for offences under the OCA, 19 of converting the benefits of criminal conduct and four of illegal gambling.
The group's main activity is said to have been illegal 4-D and Toto. It was also involved in remote gambling - or punting over the phone and Internet.
Apart from Seet, five other group members - said to be runners and agents - were also charged.
Among them was See Chye Huat, 50, accused of handling almost $11.8 million worth of illegal gains between 2013 and 2016.
Meanwhile, 55-year-old Or Poh Soon is said to have facilitated remote gambling and received illegal bets amounting to $3.7 million.
Lim Poi Hwa, 62, the only woman in the group, acted as an agent, receiving bets and helping manage the remote gambling operations.
The other members of the group who have been charged are Seah Ee Lam, 67 and Toh Hee Choye, 62. They, too, are accused of helping with illegal lottery and remote gambling operations.
The pre-trial conference for all six Singaporeans will be held on Nov 23.
If convicted, anyone who is a member of a locally linked organised criminal group can be jailed for up to five years and fined up to $100,000.
Correction note: An earlier version of the story misspelt Toh Hee Choye's name. We are sorry for the error.