HK-Shenzhen police crack down on illegal gambling on soccer World Cup

21:28, June 13, 2010      

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An illegal cross-boundary gambling syndicate was smashed by a Hong Kong-Shenzhen joint police operation on Saturday with a total of 70 people arrested and a record-high seizure of over 100 million HK dollars (about 12. 82 million U.S. dollars) betting slips, said the HK police on Sunday.

An officer in charge of Hong Kong's operation told a press conference here on Sunday that 25 people were arrested in Hong Kong while 45 were taken into custody in Shenzhen, Guangdong, including the core member of the syndicate, in the crackdown.

Superintendent of Hong Kong's Organized Crime and Triad Bureau (OCTB), Man Tat-shing said the estimated total amount of betting records from the joint action was over 100 million HK dollars, confirming it the biggest ever amount seized in a single case.

Officers of the OCTB, the Financial Investigation Division Narcotics Bureau (FID), and the Technology Crime Division of the Commercial Crime Bureau (TCD/CCB) together with the Public Security Bureau of Shenzhen conducted an intelligence-led operation codenamed "Zonebuilder" against illegal bookmaking activities in the past two days since the opening of the World Cup in South Africa.

During the operation in Hong Kong, police arrested 19 men and six women, aged between 34 and 67, for engaging in bookmaking and money laundering related offenses over the territories. Police also seized a face value of 66 million HK dollars betting slips, 0. 64 million HK dollars in cash, 18 computers, and discovered 13 illegal betting websites.

Man said the crackdown in Shenzhen saw another 45 people arrested including three HK residents and 47 million HK dollars of betting records together with 50 computers seized.

Initial investigation revealed that the syndicate based in the Chinese mainland had been running in Hong Kong for over half a year, receiving bets of about 100 million HK dollars each month, mainly through internet. The syndicate also used a number of Hong Kong and mainland bank accounts to handle crime proceeds. The amount of crime proceeds involved was 752 million HK dollars.

A senior officer of OCTB said the years of harsh attacks on illegal gambling in Hong Kong had forced the bankers moving their bases out of HK, mainly to the mainland. He added that a joint anti-gamble group had set up by Hong Kong, Macao and Guangdong police as cross-boundary illegal gambling were increasing in recent years.

Speaking at the press conference, Man said, "Police will continue taking vigorous enforcement action against illegal bookmaking activities during the course of the World Cup."

The force has recently produced anti-gamble TV programs and delivered leaflets warning of the risks of illegal gambling to tea cafes, as bookmakers have been known to contact punters watching live broadcasts of games.

A "Do Not Gamble" Fun Fair was also launched on Saturday by the Hong Kong government to enhance public awareness, in particular amongst youngsters, of the negative impact of gambling during the World Cup.

According to the Gambling Ordinance, anyone who bets with a bookmaker is liable to a fine of 30,000 HK dollars and nine months in prison. (1 U.S. dollar is about 7.8 HK dollars.)

Source: Xinhua


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