Woman arrested for organizing billion-dong chess gambling for gov't officials

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Police in the Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang have arrested a woman for organizing gambling chess games for local officials, Tuoi Tre reported Thursday.

The newspaper quoted police as saying Ngo Hue Phan let Nguyen Thanh Leo, former deputy director of Soc Trang Province Transport Department, and Dinh Van Muoi, former deputy chief of Soc Trang Town Party Unit's Inspection Committee, gamble on Chinese chess games at her home for a long time.

At first they gambled with lottery tickets bought from Phan, police said, adding that Phan sold tickets worth a total of VND75 million (US$3,500) in these games. Later, the officials began to bet money on the games, they said. 

At the time the gambling officials were arrested, Leo had paid VND1.9 billion (US$91,100) out of a debt of VND2.5 billion ($120,000) that he had lost on the games to Muoi.

Leo was apprehended last month together with Tran Van Tan, former director of the province's Center for Driving Tests and Licensing, when they were gambling on a Chinese chess game at a local café.

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On December 27 Leo had sought police protection from thugs allegedly hired by Tan to make death threats in connection with VND17 billion ($809,000) he owed the latter in gambling debts.

Later Leo also mentioned Muoi, who was arrested last week.

Police also seized two gangsters, Nguyen Thanh Hung and his son, Nguyen Thanh Truyen, hired by Tan to force Leo to pay his debts.

The two men were detained for four months on charges of "appropriating properties."

The case is being investigated further.

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