Nha Trang poker gambling ring bribes police for protection

By Bui Toan   May 26, 2024 | 11:38 pm PT
Nha Trang poker gambling ring bribes police for protection
A poker gambling ring busted by Vietnamese police. Photo courtesy of the police
A poker gambling ring in Nha Trang was revealed to have bribed police officers hundreds of millions of Vietnamese dong to keep it running.

Nguyen Minh Hai, 51, who ran the ring, will be tried before the Khanh Hoa People's Committee on June 5 for organizing gambling and giving bribes.

Also, relevant to the case, 17 others will also stand trial for gambling, organizing gambling and giving bribes. They include South Korean Ham Heungchul, who was internationally wanted by Interpol for stealing in 2022.

Luong Tien Quan, a deputy division head of the criminal police department under the Ministry of Public Security in the southern areas, has been charged with receiving bribes.

Police of central Khanh Hoa Province, home to Nha Trang, found seven people gambling at the Joker Club facility in Phuoc Hai Ward on Feb. 3, 2023. They were playing poker, with 582 chips on the table, amounting to over VND300 million ($11,781).

The club was funded by Hai and three others, organizing gambling since June 2022. The group hired seven people to manage the place, paying them VND4-7 million a month.

Hai created groups on Telegram for management. From June 2022 to February 2023, around VND6 billion were illegally gained from poker activities.

For the poker ring to operate, the group said they had to give money every month to several local officials for "protection."

From 2017 to 2020, Hai opened 10 poker tables at a hotel area on Nguyen Thien Thuat Street, and allowed certain Chinese and Cambodians to manage them. Hai was in charge of "external affairs" to make sure that the ring could keep running.

In September 2020, Hai said the criminal police department in the southern region would perform checks on poker locations in Nha Trang, so he contacted Quan, who was in charge of Khanh Hoa, for help.

They later agreed that Hai would give Quan a certain amount of money every month, so that Hai’s poker facility would not be checked.

Prosecutors said that from March 2022 to January 2023, Hai and his accomplices had transferred money to Quan several times, totaling VND420 million. Hai also admitted giving money and gifts to at least six other police officers, but prosecutors said his words were "baseless."

Quan is currently on bail.

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