Sat, Feb 28, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Five bookies caught with NT$9 billion

ELECTION BETS Those arrested Thursday night in their homes in Kaohsiung are accused of organizing a Web-based gambling ring

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Five bookmakers were arrested yesterday for allegedly constructing a gambling Web site and accepting bets on the presidential election, while a total of NT$9 billion was discovered in nine of their bank accounts.

The National Police Administration's Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) held a press conference yesterday to announce the arrest of Hung Chung-ching (洪仲慶), 51, Wang San-ho (王三合), 43, Chen Chen-lai (陳振來), 39, Chang Bi-hsiuan (張璧璿), 19, and Wang Yi-ting (王意婷), 42.

Officers said this was not the first time they had arrested bookies handling bets on presidential election results but the NT$9 billion was the most they had found from illicit betting.

Officers from CIB's Central Headquarters worked with the Kaohsiung City Police Department under the orders of Kaohsiung Prosecutor Lu Hsing-ling (呂幸玲) to investigate the gang for more than a month.

The authorities decided to make their move on Thursday night, and arrested the five suspects in their homes in Kaohsiung's Tsoying and Sanmin districts.

Officers discovered that the suspects had opened nine bank accounts to which gamblers could wire their bets.

The police said they confiscated two Internet servers, 23 fax machines, 11 desktop computers, security video systems and the bookies' accounting records.

According to the police, the suspects allegedly constructed a Web site on which gamblers could place their bets. The bookies then asked the gamblers to wire their money to the bank accounts.

"Investigators discovered that NT$9 billion was deposited in these nine bank accounts," said Captain Lin Yuan-cheng (林淵城) of CIB Central Headquarters.

"Investigators believe the money was from bets placed on the presidential election although the suspects have not admitted to it," he said.

Lin said that officers were carrying out the "Thunder 29" campaign against underground gambling groups, particularly those betting on the result of the presidential election.

Police officers discovered that the gang had been operating a nationwide betting ring on Hong Kong horse racing since 1999, taking in billions of NT dollars in wagers.

Police said the five suspects had earned more than NT$100 million since they began their gambling business five years ago.

Officers said the suspects began accepting bets on the election at the beginning of this month.

The investigation also discovered that most gamblers believed that the ticket of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) will win the election by a margin of between 500,000 to 700,000 votes, with an estimated 12 million votes cast.

Those wanting to place bets on the election had to make a minimum bet of at least US$1,000.

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