A major trial in Vietnam has begun, with 92 defendants, including two former senior members of the Ministry Of Public Security (MoPS), charged with involvement in an illegal online gambling operation.
The defendants are facing a range of charges including abuse of power, organised gambling and money laundering, and the former Director General of the MoPS’s Police General Department along with the former Director of the MoPS’s Hi-tech Crime Police Department are among those charged, who could be facing prison sentences of 15 years. The initial stage of the trial is due to last for 15 days, and will hear from 73 other individuals and 14 witnesses.
It is alleged that those accused were involved with an online gambling ring, which also colluded with officials in senior positions in the Telecoms and Financial industries.
As in many countries in East Asia, gambling is strictly regulated and largely illegal. Earlier this summer, the Vietnamese National Assembly agreed in principle to the legalisation of sports betting and a 2017 decree permitted Vietnamese to gamble on horse and greyhound racing, but other forms of betting, including online gambling, are outlawed, and in recent months, the Vietnamese authorities have regularly taken enforcement action in an attempt to tackle illegal gambling operations.
According to the charges laid in this case, the group used internet technology to run a gambling operation in Phú Thọ and other cities, helped by the two high-ranking law enforcement officials, whose official positions included hi-tech crime prevention responsibilities. It is alleged that the illegal gambling operation ran for 28 months, attracting over 42.95 million gambling accounts and earning around VNĐ10 trillion (US$428 million) in illegal revenue.
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