Cambodian authorities have arrested over 100 Chinese nationals at a casino in Poipet, although the raid appears to have nothing to do with gambling.
On Thursday, local media reported that Cambodian police had arrested 118 Chinese nationals at the Golden Crown Casino, a gaming hall owned by Kok An, a senator with the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and one of the country’s wealthiest men. The raid was conducted in conjunction with the Chinese branch of Interpol following a joint investigation.
The Golden Crown casino, which was full of Chinese gamblers at the time of the raid, had to be shut down in order to ensure no one slipped through the police dragnet. Eighty of those arrested were subsequently released after fingerprint checks revealed they weren’t on the Chinese wanted list, while the other 38 remain in custody pending their deportation to China.
The detained Chinese nationals were suspected of running an ‘online kidnapping’ and extortion ring that targeted wealthy families in China using voice over internet protocol (VoIP) technology. A similar VoIP scam in Sihanoukville last November resulted in the arrest of 170 Chinese nationals, who had also chosen to establish their base of operations at hotels attached to local casinos.
The precise nature of the suspects’ online extortion activities weren’t detailed, although previous arrests of this type involved the perpetrators calling Chinese citizens and claiming that their bank accounts had been compromised, then advising them to transfer their funds to supposedly safer accounts.
Many Cambodian casinos have launched China-facing live-dealer online casinos in recent years. Last November’s arrests in Sihanoukville prompted a mass exodus of Chinese workers from these casinos, under the mistaken impression that the crackdown was gambling related.