Tech bosses busted for running gambling ring with top police official in Vietnam

Police have arrested two major tech buinessmen as they continue to unravel a multi-million-dollar gambling ring that involved Vietnam’s top cyber crime policeman, official reports say.

Phan Sao Nam, founder and former board chairman of major online communication firm VTC, and Nguyen Van Duong, board chairman of high-tech security development company CNC, had been the masterminds behind the huge gambling racket, an investigation found.

The syndicate has been grabbing national headlines since the Ministry of Public Security announced on Sunday that Nguyen Thanh Hoa, director of its cyber crime division, had been arrested for his part in organizing the operation.

Police in the northern province of Phu Tho, where the operation was based, said that nearly 70 people have been arrested for their involvement since August 2017.

Nam, 39, and Duong, 43, had been operating tech businesses and importing technical devices before they switched to online gambling, police said.

Using their expertise, they set up a system in which players bet money via an online game using cards issued by CNC.

The investigation found the transnational gambling ring had around eight million frequent users. So far, police have seized more than VND1 trillion ($44 million) and suspect that a further $3.6 million has been transferred overseas.

Police said Hoa, the police official, had failed to shut down the syndicate after uncovering it, and instead offered his protection.

Hoa worked in the economic crime unit for many years before serving as head of the cyber crime division from 2009, holding the title major general. He was suspended in late 2017 for his involvement in the crime.

“This is a particularly large scale case, using high technology, especially serious, complex and sensitive, involving many people, many sectors and provinces, involving officials within the police,” Voice of Vietnam cited a Party official as saying following news of Hoa"s arrest.

Organizing gambling or running gambling dens is punishable by up to 10 years in jail in Vietnam.

Vietnam’s anti-corruption fight has taken down a series of big fish in recent months, with dozens of executives at state-owned PetroVietnam jailed for embezzlement and mismanagement.

Trinh Xuan Thanh, who fled to Germany, has received two life sentences for losses worth millions of dollars at the group. Former Politburo member Dinh La Thang received a 13-year jail term in January and is awaiting a second trial this month.