The gambling ring behind downfall of Vietnamese top police official: what we know so far

By Ba Do   March 17, 2018 | 10:03 am GMT+7
The gambling ring behind downfall of Vietnamese top police official: what we know so far
(From L) Phan Sao Nam and Nguyen Van Duong who are accused of running a multi-million-dollar gambling ring under probe in Vietnam, and Nguyen Thanh Hoa, former director of the Ministry of Public Security's cyber crime division who allegedly protected the crime. Photo by VnExpress

83 people are under investigation for involvement in the ring that attracted 14 million players and bets worth almost $420 million in less than three years.

A multi-million-dollar gambling ring unveiled by Vietnamese police recently has been grabbing headlines after the arrests of two major tech businessmen and the country's former cyber crime police chief.

As the case continues to widen, VnExpress takes a look at some key events in the investigation that has resulted in 83 people being put under criminal investigation and 38 arrested.

Police in the northern province of Phu Tho first discovered the gambling ring upon investigating a fraud case reported last May, in which a local was scammed out of VND55 million ($2,400) in mobile top-up cards. After being arrested, the scammer told the police that he had redeemed all the cards for virtual currencies in an online gambling card game.

While investigating this claim, police uncovered a large online gambling ring run by Nguyen Van Duong, board chairman of high-tech security development company CNC and Phan Sao Nam, founder and former board chairman of major online communication firm VTC Online.

Duong and Nam ran the ring using two online game portals that resembled professional casinos, on which players could gamble virtual money and convert their winnings to real money, police found. Players could obtain virtual money by redeeming mobile top-up cards, CNC's pre-paid cards or by paying the tech companies through bank transfer.

Investigators found the portals started operating in April 2015, drawing around 14 million players and bets worth VND9.6 trillion ($419.7 million). It earned Duong and Nam profit worth VND3.2 trillion ($140 million).

"This is the gambling network with the largest scale and biggest earnings in Vietnam," they said in a statement.

Police arrested Duong and Nam last August and seized over VND1 trillion ($43.8 million), 13 cars, 20 apartments, and froze over VND380 billion in bank accounts belonging to the suspects.

Officer said that the illegal money, mostly in cash and gold, was hidden across the country and in many cases required them to use multiple trucks and obtain special permission to transport the exhibits to their warehouse in Hanoi.

Following further investigation, police last Sunday arrested Nguyen Thanh Hoa, former director of the Ministry of Public Security's cyber crime division for allegedly colluding with Duong and Nam.

According to investigators, Hoa learned about the gambling ring but did not take actions against it. Hoa was found to have "borrowed" VND17 billion as well as accepted VND700 million in gifts from Duong.

Police have also issued arrest warrants against nine suspects involved in the case and questioned Lieutenant General Phan Van Vinh, former head of the General Department of Police regarding his responsibility as Hoa's superior.

 
 
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