Vietnamese authorities have commenced court proceedings against 59 individuals caught up in the bust of a ring tied to online gambling operator M88.com.
In January 2013, Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security broke up a “transnational gambling ring” connected with the Philippine-licensed M88.com following a three-year investigation. Last June, charges were filed against 59 individuals, some of who acted as agents and money-movers on behalf of M88, which police have described as the most popular online betting site in Vietnam.
Among those arrested was Nguyen Le Sand, the former deputy director of marketing at Vietnam International Bank, who was allegedly paid US $100k to allow M88 financial transactions to be conducted through eight bank accounts. The operation is believed to have handled over $92m in wagers from nearly 12k customers before the authorities pulled the plug. The ring’s biggest whale reportedly generated $415k in total bets.
On Tuesday, the trial of the 59 accused got underway in Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court. Prosecutors have proposed charging six individuals with the serious offence of gambling organization while the others are facing mere illegal gambling charges. The trial is scheduled to last until May 19. Police are still on the trail of suspect Nguyen Vo Hoai Tram, who is believed to have been M88’s first agent on the ground in 2010.
HO CHI MINH CITY TAKES DOWN ILLEGAL CASINO, COCKFIGHTING RING
Meanwhile, Ho Chi Minh City police busted a massive illegal casino and cockfighting operation over the weekend. At least 70 individuals were arrested, including the alleged organizer Nguyen Hoang Kiet, whom Thanh Nien News described as “a notorious retired thief.”
Police said Kiet, who has served three jail sentences for robbery and drug smuggling, had been running the operation for over a year under the guise of a pig farm. The walled-off grounds were accessible via a single entrance and monitored by four CCTV cameras. Inside, were roulette tables and a cockfighting tent. Police seized around $10k in cash, 60 mobile phones and 77 motorbikes.