The trial of 59 Vietnamese people allegedly involved in a transnational online gambling ring began on Tuesday at the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court in Vietnam, reported Xinhua, an official Chinese news agency.
The outlet added that investigators had records of nearly 12,000 accounts with total transaction values of over VND2 trillion (US$92.1 million).
The accounts were allegedly opened on what Xinhua described as “a foreign online gambling website named M88”. The most common form of gambling was said to be betting on football matches.
Local police are said still to be seeking some Vietnamese allegedly involved, including Nguyen Vo Hoai Tram, director of a local company. The person is accused of acting as the first M88 agent in Vietnam from 2010 to January 2013.
According to the indictment, some defendants acted as intermediaries between foreign bookmakers and local bettors, opening multiple accounts to receive money from bettors and then allegedly transferring the money to bookmakers abroad.
Other defendants allegedly made wagers ranging from VND90 million – more than US$4,100 – to as much as 100 times that amount, at VND9 billion.
The Ho Chi Minh City People’s Procuracy reportedly proposed at the hearing that six defendants should be prosecuted on the charge of gambling organisation. They include Cu Huy Giap, born in 1981 and from Hanoi, whom it is claimed opened and used six M88 accounts to transfer more than VND629 billion.
Other defendants are said to include former university lecturers and construction engineers. They have been prosecuted on the charge of gambling, said Xinhua.
The trial is scheduled to end on Tuesday, May 19.
On Monday it was additionally reported by Vietnamese news outlet Thanh Nien News that at least 70 people were arrested on Sunday after police raided an illegal casino and cockfighting pit in Ho Chi Minh City.
Gambling, except in government licensed casinos, is illegal in Vietnam. Access to licensed casinos is restricted to foreign passport holders.
The Vietnamese government was last year said to be mulling allowing – on a trial basis – one of the country’s foreigners-only casino resorts to open its doors to locals, possibly with safeguards including proof of income.
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