Vietnam's former police chief arrested in multi-million-dollar gambling case

By VnExpress   April 6, 2018 | 01:55 am PT
Vietnam's former police chief arrested in multi-million-dollar gambling case
Phan Van Vinh addresses a meeting in October 2016 as director of Vietnam's General Police Department. Photo by VnExpress/Ba Do
Phan Van Vinh, who served as head of the national police department until a year ago, is suspected of abusing his power in the $420 million case.

Vietnamese police arrested a once top-ranking police official on Friday for his involvement in a massive online gambling ring that has seen dozens of arrests made in recent months, including a number of other big fish.

Phan Van Vinh, former director of the General Police Department under the Ministry of Public Security, is being investigated for abuse of power on duty, said police from the northern province of Phu Tho.

He will be detained for at least four months for criminal probe, prosecutors said.

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 a large online gambling ring run by two tech businessmen 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), and earning the two masterminds VND3.2 trillion ($140 million).

Both businessmen have been arrested.

Including Vinh, there are now 37 people arrested and 84 facing criminal charges.

He has been questioned by police several times in recent weeks, both at home and at the police station, following the arrest of Nguyen Thanh Hoa, former director of the ministry’s cyber crime division.

Vinh, 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.

When leading the hunt for runaway oil bigwig Trinh Xuan Thanh, he told reporters that his force was determined “to arrest Thanh by any means no matter where he was hiding.” Thanh, who received two life sentences this year for causing million-dollar losses at oil giant PetroVietnam, fled to Germany in 2016 but reportedly came back and turned himself in last year.

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