Hanoi man gets 5 years for running $47M gambling racket

By Thanh Lam   April 6, 2024 | 03:00 am PT
Hanoi man gets 5 years for running $47M gambling racket
Nguyen Minh Thanh stands trial in Hanoi, April 4, 2024. Photo VnExpress/Danh Lam
A Hanoi man who ran two gambling websites that collected bets of VND1.18 trillion (US$47.4 million) in just four months was sentenced to five years Friday.

At his trial at the Nam Tu Liem District Court in Hanoi, Nguyen Minh Thanh, 35, was found guilty of "organizing gambling."

Vu Tien Duy got three and a half years and Tran Duc Cuong three years for the same charges.

Eight other members of the ring received sentences equivalent to the time they already served, and were therefore released.

Another 42 were charged with "gambling," and most of them received suspended sentences.

The ring operators were ordered to return all the illegal profits to the gamblers.

Thanh turned in VND47 billion and US$300,000 in cash and 116 taels of gold. One tael of gold is currently worth around VND70 million.

According to the jury, the defendants' actions were dangerous and had negative consequences on the public.

Thanh, an IT expert, knew online gambling games were very effective and a big money spinner for their operators, and so got some accomplices to develop and operate a game for the purpose.

The gambling ring first came to light on Aug. 18, 2021, when police in Nam Tu Liem District kept an eye on Thanh and Trong who "showed suspicious signs."

When the duo withdrew a lot of cash from an ATM, officers stopped and questioned them.

But the two could not account for the origin of the money, and so the officers took them for further questioning.

This led to the discovery of Thanh's million-dollar gambling racket, which had been active since 2019 after he developed online gambling software.

He created two online games, SOCVIP, later changed to SUMVIP, and VUACLUB, that allowed people to gamble using virtual currency.

Players had to buy virtual currencies named SUM and VUA by using phone cards, and transferring money through e-wallets or through bank transfers.

The game automatically collected a 1% fee on the total bets, and winners were charged an additional 1% fee at the end.

The ring had 160 agents for players to exchange the virtual money back into cash, and they would pay VND83,000 for VND100,000 of the former.

The Hanoi People's Procuracy – the prosecutors' office – determined that in just four months in 2021 the sites had attracted six million players who loaded as much as VND1.184 trillion into the games.

In October 2021, when the police carried out raids, they found Thanh alone owning five luxury cars worth VND50 billion and three fancy apartments in Hanoi.

The court heard that Thanh pocketed VND123 billion, and Duy and Cuong earned VND17.8 billion and VND12 billion.

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