Man jailed for giving bribes to scapegoats to take rap for running illegal gambling cafes

A self-employed man was sentenced to four weeks in jail on Tuesday for corruptly giving bribes to two scapegoats to assume criminal liability on behalf of his accomplice who operated illegal Internet gambling cafes. Pak Lian Huat, 51, pleaded guilty to two charges of corruption and had two others taken into consideration.

He, together with Cheh Back Hai, gave $500 to Stephen Low Teck Khwee in September 2006 for the latter to take the rap for Cheh's illegal online gambling cafe at Bedok North Street 1. The pair similarly paid $500 to another scapegoat Thanabal Sokalingam Thambusamy in May 2007 over another cafe of Cheh's at Bedok North Street 3.

A district court heard that at the time, Cheh ran a chain of illegal Internet gambling cafes under the guise of licensed Internet cafes. He hired scapegoats to register themselves as owners of the cafes, sign tenancy agreements and prevent the authorities from discovering that Cheh was the real operator behind the gambling cafes. They were paid $500 a month by Cheh.

In 2006, Pak was approached by Cheh to invest in his gambling cafes. After some consideration, Pak took up the offer. In return for his contributing capital towards the gambling cafes set up by Cheh, he would receive about 40 per cent of the profits from each shop.

Both men agreed that they would engage fall guys to assume criminal liability for their gambling cafes in the event of police raids. Pak could have been fined up to $100,000 and/or jailed for up to five years on each charge.

Cheh, 64, Low and Thanabal have been dealt with. Cheh was jailed for four months. Low was also sentenced to four months' jail and ordered to pay penalty of $9,500, while Thanabal got 12 weeks' jail and was ordered to pay penalty of $4,000.

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