Vietnam charges 59 in million-dollar gambling ring; mastermind remains at large

By Thai Son – Hoang Trang, Thanh Nien News

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The home page of Philippines-based gambling website M88 of which 59 Vietnamese have been charged legally The home page of Philippines-based gambling website M88 of which 59 Vietnamese have been charged legally
Vietnam has charged 59 people, including one former bank employee and several wealthy businesspeople, for their alleged involvement in a multimillion-dollar gambling ring that centered around a website based in the Philippines.
The Supreme People’s Procuracy -- the country’s top prosecution unit -- filed organized gambling charges against Nguyen Le Sang, former deputy director of PR and marketing at Vietnam International Bank, Cu Thi Thanh Hai, former deputy director of telecommunications agent News Plus, Hai's brother and famous photographer Cu Huy Giap in Hanoi, Nguyen Van Nam, director of a construction and trading company, and two Ho Chi Minh City residents Pham Thi Kim Hoang and Le Van Hai.
The operation of their website, M88.com, had extended to Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and beyond before being busted early last year.
The website was registered by foreigners and operated publicly in several countries.
All told, it handled bets worth tens of millions of dollars.
Users were instructed to open accounts, register with online money transfer services and bet on soccer matches and other sporting events.
Police say Nguyen Vo Hoai Tram, then-director of News Plus, was the mastermind of the operation in Vietnam.
They allege Tram signed a contract with M88 in 2010 to serve as its advertising agent.
Tram remains at large, but police say he recruited Cu Thi Thanh Hai and Nguyen Le Sang to open bank accounts in order to transfer money to local gamblers.
Investigators found 12,000 accounts which received regular transfers from accounts registered to M88's local representatives.
Sang was allegedly paid US$100,000 to open eight accounts for the purposes of transferring more than VND585 billion in gambling proceeds; Hai recieved $35,000 to open six accounts which transferred more than VND64 billion.
Giap transferred more than VND629 billion to and from six accounts and Loan more than VND503 billion. Their proceeds from the scheme have not yet been determined.
Gambling of any kind is illegal in Vietnam -- a country that's home to several luxury casinos which cater only to foreign passport holders.

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