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Senegal's honorary consul arrested in gambling den scandal

dpa German Press Agency
Published: Tuesday November 7, 2006

Singapore- Senegal's honorary consul to Singapore has been arrested over an illegal gambling den operating at the consulate, police said Wednesday. Benny Kusni, a 36-year-old Indonesian, is suspected of helping in the operating of the gambling den, an offence that could land him in jail for up to three years and a fine of 50,000 Singapore dollars (31,800 US dollars).

Kusni himself has denied all knowledge of the den.

Police placed Kusni under arrest on Tuesday when he turned up at the investigation department with his lawyer Peter Fernando.

A police raid Friday night found the consulate was doubling as a gambling den packing up to 100 enthusiasts a night, with bets ranging from a minimum 100 Singapore dollars (64 US dollars) up to 30,000 Singapore dollars (19,600 US dollars).

Three of Kusni's associates who were members of the consulate's Senegal Trade and Investment Committee were among the 31 people nabbed in the raid, police said.

Tan Kim Seng, Keith Lee and Johnson Lim, have all been charged with operating an illegal casino.

Honorary consuls are not entitled to diplomatic immunity under international conventions.

Kusni's younger sister told The Straits Times that her brother had given her his cellphone before going to the police station.

"He passed his phone to me in case something happened," she was quoted as saying.

Kusni, appointed the African nation's honorary consul in December last year, said earlier he had no knowledge of the den and never stepped beyond the front reception counter.

The honorary consul is an unpaid post. Kusni, with a business in Jakarta, said he only dealt with visa matters.

Police were tipped-off last week after an investigation by The Straits Times unveiled the den's operations, complete with semi- circular baccarat tables, quarters with mattresses and pillows on the floor and a well-stocked pantry.

They recovered about 80,000 Singapore dollars (51,000 US dollars) in two metal safes plus gambling paraphernalia including chips and cartons of playing cards.

© 2006 dpa German Press Agency