Police shut down six illegal gambling operations involving 50 billion yuan

Chinese police say they have shut down six illegal gambling cases involving 50 billion yuan, and launched a global hunt for seven alleged ringleaders.

Gong Dao'an, chief of the Public Security Bureau in Xianning City in central China's Hubei Province, said the bureau had spent more than a year on the six cases, which took in the equivalent of US$7 billion dollars.

“We found tens of thousands of gamblers from around the country took parts in gambling organized by the six gangs between 2004 and 2009. Most of the gambling funds have flowed to overseas gambling groups through underground money laundering channels,” the police chief told China’s Xinhua news agency.

He said police have only retrieved 800 million yuan funds through freezing the suspects’ bank accounts.

“We are seeking international cooperation to help cut off the money laundering channels, which circulated the gambling funds overseas,” Gong said.

The investigation dates back to 2007 and uncovered Web sites offering gambling on football, horse racing and card games and operated in 10 Chinese provinces and cities.

“Some of the gangs used leased servers in the United States, Singapore and the Republic of Korea, and others acted as agents for overseas gambling Web sites. They developed gamblers in China's mainland for the Web sites," said Gong.

He said 27 members of the gangs had been given jail terms, and 30 other gang members were expected to be charged later this month.

One of the gang’s customers, who was only identified as a manager of a coal mine in China’s northern Shanxi Province, gambled away 400 million Hong Kong dollars on a weeklong trip to Macao in June last year, said Gong.

He said the cases are still under investigation.