Chinese police uncover major gambling cases, launch a global hunt for seven principals

The Xinhua News Agency reports that Chinese police have busted six serial gambling cases involving a total of some 50 billion yuan (about US$ 7 billion), and have launched a global hunt for seven principals involved in the cases.

Gong Dao'an, chief of the Public Security Bureau in Xianning City, in central China's Hubei Province, said the bureau had spent over a year on the six cases.

"We found tens of thousands of gamblers from around the country took part in gambling organised by six gangs between 2004 and 2009," he revealed. "Most of the gambling funds have flowed to overseas online gambling groups through underground money laundering channels," said the police chief, adding that his investigators have so far recovered only 800 million yuan funds through freezing the gangs' local bank accounts.

"We are seeking international cooperation to help cut off the money laundering channels, which circulated the gambling funds overseas," said the police chief, without giving details of cooperation or identifying the Internet gambling websites involved.

Gong Dao'an said the investigations bureau started to check five Internet sports gambling websites in 2007, which offered gambling on football, horse racing and card games, and received stakes from people in 10 Chinese provinces and cities.

"We found the sites were operated by gang members. Some of the gangs used leased servers in the United States, Singapore and the Republic of Korea to run online gambling websites, and others acted as agents for overseas gambling websites. They developed gamblers in China's mainland for the websites," said Gong.

He revealed that 27 unnamed members of the gangs had been given jail terms, and 30 other gang members were expected to be charged later this month as investigations continued to develop.

"Through the detection of the five cases, police found clues to another gambling gang, which organised gamblers in casinos in Macao, Taiwan, the Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia, and lent out money at high interest rate to gamblers," said Gong.

The gang leader Liu Qingli surrendered to the police in May this year. He confessed that the gang sought customers, mainly rich businessmen, to gamble overseas. The gang with 18 business development agents and 125 members made business worth 20 billion yuan.

One of the gang's customers, who was only identified as a manager of a coal mine in north China's Shanxi Province, gambled away 400 million Hong Kong dollars on a week-long trip to Macao in June last year, said Gong.

He said the cases are still under investigation.

The police chief commented that gambling criminals are usually given jail terms from three to 10 years, which are not heavy enough to act as a deterrent.

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