Gambling-Related Crimes Around the Globe: Ukraine Bribery Scandal, Singapore Poker Attacker Jailed

  • In Ukraine, authorities have arrested a member of the gaming regulator on charges of bribery
  • The offender supposedly accepted $90,000 in return for granting permits for gambling venues
  • A 26-year-old from Singapore has received a jail term for an assault during a poker game last year
  • He attacked a player he accused of cheating, also taking S$70,000(US$51,565) from the victim
Judge's gavel with dice, chips, and cards
Ukraine’s gaming regulator is in the firing line as the result of a recent bribery scandal, while a poker player in Singapore has received a prison sentence for attacking another player. [Image:]

Bribery and assault

Gambling-related crimes have made the headlines in Ukraine and Singapore over the past few days, with one involving a bribery scandal and the other an assault on a poker player.

In the Eastern European country of Ukraine, it’s not the market’s gamblers under the spotlight. Instead, a high-ranking member of the gaming regulator, the Commission for the Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries (KRAIL), stands accused of taking bribes.

receiving an illegal benefit in the amount of $90,000”

Last Friday, Ukraine’s federal anti-corruption bureau, NABU, issued a statement announcing that it had arrested a member of KRAIL. The commission member faces charges of “receiving an illegal benefit in the amount of $90,000” in return for the granting of licenses.

Meanwhile, a poker player has received a prison sentence for physically assaulting a fellow gambler he claimed had cheated. Kesigan Emmanuel Santhakumar also took S$70,000 (US$51,565) from the victim’s bank account.

KRAIL scandal unfolds

In a warrant released on Friday night, NABU revealed that the arrested KRAIL member served as acting chairman of the body at the time of the offenses. This has prompted Ukrainian media to point towards Evgeny Getman, who held the position during the summer.

Ukraine ended its decade-long ban on gambling in August 2020, when President Volodymyr Zelensky signed Bill 2285-D into law. The government established KRAIL in November of last year with the aim of regulating the country’s burgeoning market. Initially headed by Ukraine special forces general Ivan Rudyi, the commission received presidential assent last summer.

NABU said the offender granted licenses to gambling venues in certain regions in return for bribes, including the cities of Chernihiv and Zaporizhzhia. The bureau will complete further investigative actions to expose other members of what it has described as an organized criminal group.

In response to the arrest, KRAIL has warned against drawing “premature conclusions.” The regulator released a statement quoting Part Two of Article Two of Ukraine’s Criminal Code, which “protects a person from criminal punishment until his guilt is legally proven and established by a court conviction.”

Assault on alleged poker cheat

Convicted attacker Kesigan Emmanuel Santhakumar, a 26-year-old from Singapore, committed his crimes during a poker game in July last year. He hosted a poker session involving at least 18 other people, breaching COVID-19 safe distancing laws in place across the region. Only five people could meet under such rules.

refused to compensate all players seven times their buy-in chip amounts

On the morning of July 29, Santhakumar accused the victim, Ian Lee Enyuan, of cheating in the poker game. Prosecutors said the offender attacked Enyuan after he refused to compensate all players seven times their buy-in amounts. Santhakumar then used the victim’s phone to withdraw S$70,000 (US$51,565) from his bank account. He later took a video of Enyuan signing a document saying that he had paid off his debt.

In court on Monday, Santhakumar pleaded guilty on multiple charges. This included one charge each of causing harm to the victim, the unauthorized modification of computer material, and exceeding the maximum group size allowed during the COVID-19 pandemic. He will serve three months and five weeks in jail.

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