Master Agent who Collected Up to $15 Million in Illegal Bets in Singapore Pleads Guilty
Apparently, a man found a unique way to supplement his paycheck and help to pay off his daughter’s medical bills by working lottery games for organized crime in Singapore. Lim Teng Kok pleaded guilty earlier this month to several gambling charges as well as organized crime charges. The arrest of Lim and others crippled the gang in 2016.
In 2001, Lim was working as a part-time helper at a food stall in a large outdoor food court in Singapore. He was also buying illegal 4D Singapore lottery tickets from a man named Ah Tee. By 2005, Lim was working for Ah Tee directly as an illegal 4D collector to earn more money. Lim needed the money to help pay his daughter’s medical bills. She had been diagnosed with kidney failure and hepatitis C and needed lots of medical care.
The first job Lim had was to collect illegal 4D bets from his friends for Ah Tee. In return, Lim received a 5% commission on all of the bets he collected. Things were going along very nicely, and Ah Tee suggested that Lim could make even more money if he worked directly for Ah Tee’s boss, Lean Kay Cheong. Lim was then given the job of a remote gambling agent. His commission was raised to 10% of all the bets he received. If any of the tickets he sold hit the lottery, Lim received 5% of the winning amount.
Lim continued to move up in the illegal gambling enterprise. He began recruiting his own agents by 2012. By the time of his arrest, he had 16 agents and 80 workers who worked directly for him. In the nine years that Lim worked for the syndicate, he collected between $10 million and $20 million in Singaporean dollars. The syndicate itself collected over $30 million in Singapore dollars in one quarter alone in 2016.
Acting on a tip from someone in the neighborhood, police raided Lim’s house in November 2016. The Criminal Investigation Department asked that Lim be treated as a suspect rather than a victim to the gambling syndicate, citing his role in recruiting for employees. He was also able to spread his employees out and received bets from the on all five draw dates for 4D games or TOTO games run by the Singapore lottery every week.
The defense estimated that Lim’s monthly income before he began working for the syndicate was $1800 Singapore dollars—not enough to support a wife and two children. When his daughter became ill with Hepatitis C and had subsequent kidney failure, Lim could not keep up with the medical bills, and was desperate. The defense attorney, citing Lim’s ill health after his arrest, has asked for time served, and a waiving of the fine.
However, the prosecution has asked for a nearly $300,000 fine to be given. The prosecution also wants Lim to serve time in jail of at least five years. The prosecutor said that the illegal gambling rings are a serious situation in Singapore, and must be stopped. At the time of Lim’s arrest, 48 other members of the syndicate were arrested as well. Although the gang Lim worked for was one of the largest to date, it is not the only gambling syndicate operating in Singapore. The prosecutor wants to send a message that gangs will not be tolerated.
The prosecution has stated that the true amount of money Lim received may never be known. The government estimated he received over $200,000 in Singapore dollars during 2007 and 2015, but they have no way of judging how much of the tickets he collected on were winners. Lim will be sentenced in January.
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