WUHAN - Chinese police said here on Monday they had busted six serial gambling cases, which involved 50 billion yuan (US$7 billion), and launched a global hunt for seven principals involved in the cases.
Gong Dao'an, chief of the Public Security Bureau in Xianning City, in central China's Hubei Province, said the bureau had spent over a year on the six cases.
"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," said the police chief.
He said police have only retrieved 800 million yuan funds through freezing the gangs' bank accounts.
"We are seeking international cooperation to help cut off the money laundering channels, which circulated the gambling funds overseas," said the police chief, without giving details of cooperation.
He said the bureau started to check five gambling websites in 2007, which offered gambling on football, horse racing and card games, and received stakes from people in 10 Chinese provinces and cities.
"We found the sites were operated by gang members. Some of the gangs used leased servers in the United States, Singapore and the Republic of Korea to run online gambling websites, and others acted as agents for overseas gambling websites. They developed gamblers in China's mainland for the websites," 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.
"Through the detection of the five cases, police found clues to another gambling gang, which organized gamblers in casinos in Macao, Taiwan, the Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia, and lent out money at high interest rate to gamblers," said Gong.
The gang leader Liu Qingli surrendered to the police in May. He confessed that the gang sought customers, mainly rich businessmen, to gamble overseas. The gang with 18 business development agents and 125 members made business worth 20 billion yuan.
One of the gang's customers, who was only identified as a manager of a coal mine in north China's Shanxi Province, gambled away 400 million Hong Kong dollars on a week-long trip to Macao in June last year, said Gong.
He said the cases are still under investigation.
He said gambling criminals are usually given jail terms from three to 10 years, which are not heavy enough to act as a deterrent.