|Police lead the defendants to court where they face charges of participating in a nationwide online gambling ring worth trillions of dong. — VNA/VNS Photo Trung Kiên|
PHÚ THỌ — Two former police chiefs who backed a nationwide online gambling ring worth trillions have been sentenced to years in prison for abusing their power.
On Friday afternoon, the Phú Thọ Province People’s Court finally delivered its verdicts against former General Director of the General Police Department under the Ministry of Public Security Phan Văn Vĩnh, former Director of the High-tech Crime Police Department Nguyễn Thanh Hóa and other 90 defendants, ending the closely watched three-week trial.
The judges sentenced Vĩnh to nine years behind bars while Hóa received 10 years. Each was fined VNĐ100 million (US$4,440).
The two ring leaders – Nguyễn Văn Dương, Chairman of the Members Council of the High-tech Security Development and Investment Company (CNC) and Phan Sào Nam, Chairman of the VTC Online Company’s Board of Directors – were found guilty of organising gambling and money laundering. The court ruled sent Dương and Nam to jail for 10 and five years, respectively.
Regarding telecommunications groups Viettel, Vinaphone and Mobifone, from which the gamblers bought prepaid cards to deposit money into their game accounts, the judges found that their total profit from the cards of more than VNĐ1.23 trillion was illegal.
Viettel earned more than VNĐ931 billion, while Vinaphone and Mobifone gained VNĐ147 billion and VNĐ171 billion, respectively.
The court ruled the three firms had to repay the State more than VNĐ118 billion, of which VNĐ90 billion would be from Viettel, VNĐ13 billion would come from Vinaphone and more than VNĐ15 billion from Mobifone.
Việt Nam’s largest-ever online gambling ring was busted in mid 2017, stunning the entire nation. Police announced that the gambling websites attracted up to 42.9 million players and generated colossal revenue of more than VNĐ9.85 trillion after just 28 months of operation starting in April 2015.
The case took a turn when further investigation revealed that two senior police chiefs, one of whom oversaw the high-tech crime department (C50), were the ring’s shadow backers.
According to the verdict, Dương and Nam decided to open two gambling websites, Rikvip and 23zdo, in 2015.
Dương’s company – the CNC – was a shell company of the Ministry of Public Security. His close ties with the C50 boss Hóa and Vĩnh, who signed the decision to set up CNC, greased the wheels to keep the gambling ring off police radar for a while.
Dương later told the court he gave Vĩnh VNĐ27 billion and nearly $2 million in cash as well as other luxurious things. He is also said to have handed Hóa VNĐ22 billion.
Vĩnh and Hóa, however, denied having received the money.
The police have initiated phase two of the expanding investigation into the gambling ring, which includes looking into bribery claims. — VNS