Singapore Man Faces Caning After Failed Extortion Plot at Marina Bay Sands

Posted on: January 3, 2022, 09:46h. 

Last updated on: January 3, 2022, 05:55h.

An attempt to extort two employees at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore could carry a painful fine. A 29-year-old man faces caning for his alleged criminal acts at the casino resort.

Marina Bay Sands
The Marina Bay Sands in Singapore is attractive not only to gamblers, but to scammers. A man faces charges after using COVID-19 as a ruse to try to become a VIP at the resort. (Image: Inside Asian Gaming)

There are those who will use any situation – legally or otherwise – to benefit themselves. It could be a college admissions request, insider trading, or even a global pandemic. Goh Tian Shun went for option three. He thought he was smarter than the rest when he tried to use COVID-19 to gain free chips and VIP access at Marina Bay Sands. Unfortunately for him, his ruse didn’t work. As a result, he could end up with a whoopin’.

On December 30, Shun was charged with extortion and cheating by impersonation, according to a report by The Straits Times. In the first incident, which occurred in August, he allegedly threatened a shift manager, asserting that he would tell authorities that the resort’s Ruby Lounge allowed a non-vaccinated person into the lounge.

To keep him from filing the report, the shift manager would need to give Shun US$200,000 in rolling chips and a permanent upgrade to a “Paiza” membership. Paiza is essentially VIP status at the resort.

If At First You Don’t Succeed

That attempt apparently wasn’t successful. Shun then tried a different approach a couple of days later. He contacted Marina Bay Sands by telephone and passed himself off as working for The New Paper, a newspaper run by Singapore Press Holdings that falls into the tabloid category. The print version was discontinued last month in favor of a digital version.

In that incident, he told the employee that his name was Jonathan Choo, who was, at one time, a photojournalist for The New Paper. He again asked for the chips and the VIP access, but was denied.

Shun was apparently shunned on both occasions, but not without his whereabouts being tracked. He has been formally charged and has to head back to court on January 27. At that time, he could be fined and sentenced to up to five years on the cheating by impersonation charge.

For the extortion, he is looking between two and five years. He could also be caned for the offense.  

Physical Punishment Not Likely

Although caning is listed as one of the possible punishments, it isn’t likely Shun will receive any cracks across his backside. Judges still have some leeway in their rulings. But in 2018, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon laid out new guidelines for casino-related crimes.

These guidelines were made following a request from Vladislav Logachev to reduce his sentence of 45 months imprisonment for “cheating at play” in a Russian syndicate that targeted Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa. His appeal was based on comparisons of shorter sentences for similar crimes in other jurisdictions.

Menon took note of the lack of “reliable references points” to sentencing for such crimes in Singapore, and created new sentencing guidelines. This included a list of pertinent sentencing considerations, as well as a clear sentencing framework.

Per the guidelines, each case must be evaluated based on offense-specific factors, such as the amount of cheating, involvement in a syndicate, and level of sophistication. Then, the offender-specific factors are considered. These include things such as remorse and cooperation with authorities, and whether the accused has entered a guilty plea.

The “offense-specific” factors are used to assess the severity of the offense. They can be classified as mild, moderate, or severe. The “offender-specific” elements also determine culpability and can be categorized as either low, medium, or high.

Sentences are determined on a sliding scale, with lesser offenses earning a fine and up to one year in jail. People found guilty of severe injury or high culpability are expected to be sentenced to five to seven years.

Caning isn’t mentioned as part of the guidelines.