‘I was wrong’: Vietnam’s police chief arrested in massive gambling case

By Ba Do   April 9, 2018 | 08:00 pm PT
‘I was wrong’: Vietnam’s police chief arrested in massive gambling case
Former Lieutenant General Phan Van Vinh is seen during the National Congress of Vietnam's ruling Communist Party in Hanoi, Vietnam, January 25, 2016. Photo by Reuters/Kham
Police are investigating how much money Phan Van Vinh received to keep quiet about the $420 million operation.

A former high-ranking Vietnamese police official has admitted he violated the law to protect a lucrative illegal online gambling ring which has led to dozens of arrests in recent months, a source said.

Phan Van Vinh, who served as director of the General Police Department at the Ministry of Public Security until a year ago, was arrested for abuse of power on Friday by police in the northern province of Phu Tho.

An initial investigation found Vinh had helped Nguyen Thanh Hoa, then director of the ministry’s cyber crime division, and Nguyen Van Duong, chairman of high-tech security development company CNC, to set up the gambling ring, which was worth around $420 million.

Duong had previously been working with Hoa’s division to provide technical support before setting up the gambling service in May 2015 with Phan Sao Nam, founder and former board chairman of major online communications firm VTC, police found.

Both tech bosses and Hoa have been arrested.

“Vinh clearly knew about this gambling ring but he did not stop it and failed to report it to the ministry,” an authorized source said.

Vinh has conceded that “I was wrong,” the source said.

Investigators said he will be detained for at least four months while the criminal investigation is ongoing. They searched his house in Nam Dinh Province, more than 170 kilometers (100 miles) south of Phu Tho, for four hours last Friday, and collecting several documents and cash worth $1,000.

Police in Phu Tho uncovered the gambling ring while investigating a fraud case regarding mobile top-up cards last May. The scammer told police that he had redeemed all the cards for virtual currencies used in an online gambling card game.

While investigating this claim, police uncovered the ring, which was run using online games portals that resembled professional casinos. Investigators found the portals started operating in April 2015, drawing around 14 million players and bets worth VND9.6 trillion ($419.7 million).

Police said the ring is the biggest ever to be busted in Vietnam, and are looking into whether Vinh received a large sum of money from the operation.

Vinh, 62, a former lieutenant general, led the country’s top police unit between December 2014 and April last year, and oversaw major arrests of mass murderers and corrupt banking tycoons.

Including him, 88 people involved in the gambling ring are facing criminal charges. 

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