The alleged mastermind behind a plot to cheat Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands casino out of $1.4m can’t properly defend himself against his charges because he’s dead, according to the man’s lawyer.
On Monday, a district court in Singapore was scheduled to hear defense arguments from attorneys representing 53-year-old Laotian businessman Sengmanivong Soum, the alleged leader of a 14-member gang that conspired to cheat the Las Vegas Sands casino.
Instead, Sengmanivong’s attorney Shashi Nathan informed the court that his client had suffered a fatal heart attack in late April. The Straits Times reported that the attorney submitted a photo of the death certificate while insisting he was trying to convince Laotian authorities to forward an official copy of the document.
In May 2013, Sengmanivong and his 13 Thai cohorts were accused of attempting to cheat the casino’s baccarat tables via advance knowledge of the order that cards would come of the dealer’s shoe. Sengmanivong faced an additional charge of helping to arrange the theft of a card shoe containing unused playing cards from the casino’s Paiza VIP salon on the day their scam commenced.
Prosecutors claimed the gang had conducted test runs of their scam at a Manila casino in April 2013, one month before the Marina Bay Sands operation. Following their arrival in Singapore, the gang reportedly conducted advance surveillance of the Paiza VIP room to work out the details of how to access the locked card cabinet.
The trial of the 14 accused began in 2014 and the prosecution spent 100 days making their case. Prosecutors are trying to figure out how to proceed in the event that Sengmanivong’s death can be proven. If convicted, the remaining 13 defendants face maximum sentences of seven years in prison as well as a fine. Beats dying, we suppose.