Two people arrested for running a transnational gambling syndicate which collected bets on legal Singapore Pool lotteries were sentenced to jail time and hefty fines this week.
Family Business Ends in Jail
Tuesday, December 15, Ow Choon Bok, a 44-year-old Singapore resident and his father, Ow Gowan Hock, 73, received sentences of five and three-and-a-half years in jail, as well as financial sanctions of S$500,000 and S$300,000, respectively. The financial part of the sentences will be substituted with extra jail time of 10 months and 6 months, respectively, if they cannot pay the fines.
The duo was charged with crimes spanning for 7 years starting in 2009, with an estimated turnover of S$889,814 for the 6-month period between June and November in 2016 alone. The pair admitted to conspiring to provide remote gambling services in Singapore, including through an illegal website, ss772.net, which is out of function now.
Within the scope of their illegal activities was taking bets on public lotteries such as the “10,000 characters lottery”, the Singapore Pools’ 4D and Toto games.
Choon Bok was tasked with managing the administrative staff which collected the bets on the website, making sure the smooth operation of the website service, as well as the collection of the bets on the outcome of the 4D and Toto games on their respective days of the week. Choon Bok also allowed a syndicate to use his Johor Bahru-based unit between June and November 2016 to aid in the running of illegal gambling services.
His father’s role was to help him run the illegal betting website, including receiving money deposits for the activities into his bank accounts. By the time the gambling operation was busted, illegal proceeds of S$57,000 in a Punggol flat in Edgedale Plains stashed by Choon Bok were found by the police.
Aggregate Fine Capped to Profits
19 charges in total were raised against Choon Bok, but he admitted to only 6 of them in court among which the ones under the Remote Gambling Act, Organized Act and Common Gaming Houses Act. The court also heard Choon had no previous criminal history, unlike his father who had been fined several times since 1970 for gambling in a public or common gaming house.
Despite Deputy Public Prosecutor asking for 4 years in jail and S$800,000 and S$600,000 fine for the son and the father, Gowan Hock lawyers’ statement that his client pled guilty, made contributions to charity and had multiple illnesses besides his old age influenced the judge who ruled that evidence showed only S$800,000 were earned and capped the fines to this amount.
The judge further noted that the deadline for paying the fines would be the final day of each jail sentence.