Taiwan Authorities Indict Billionaire Over $4.4bn Online Gambling Ring

  • Taiwanese authorities indicted billionaire Chuang Chou-wen and 31 of his employees
  • Their charges relate to gambling, tax evasion, and engaging in organized criminal activities
  • An extensive online gambling network operated through GPK Bet from 2014 to January 2020
  • Profits yielded from the illegal gambling operation are thought to be $2.1bn
  • China and Taiwan collaborate to fight illegal gambling despite political differences
handcuffs, cash, and dice
Taiwanese authorities have indicted a billionaire and 31 of his employees for their alleged involvement in $4.4bn illegal online gambling operation that reaped an estimated $2.1bn in profits. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A huge illegal operation

Authorities in Taiwan have indicted 32 people for money laundering and the operation of an illegal online gambling platform. Taiwanese billionaire Chuang Chou-wen was one of the people hit with an indictment. The remaining 31 people were employees at his firm, Xinliwang International Holdings Company Ltd.

They are facing charges from the Taichung District Prosecutors Office for gambling, tax evasion, and engagement in organized criminal activity. The authorities seized all of the billionaire’s assets, which include about $45m in cash and 13 luxury cars, as well as 41 properties that carry a total value of nearly $47m.

GPK Bet allegedly processed a total of $4.4bn worth of wagers between 2014 and January 2020.

According to allegations, Xinliwang Group owns GPK Bet, a platform that operates 532 online gambling sites and 54 systems providers. GPK Bet allegedly processed a total of $4.4bn worth of wagers between 2014 and January 2020. The main focus of these illegal sites was mainland China, where most forms of gambling are illegal. Strict controls are also in place on gambling in Taiwan.

Unraveling the network

The authorities believe that the Xinliwang Group’s profits from the illegal gambling operation were about $2.1bn and the total amount of taxes evaded was $9.5m. To launder the money, funds went through dummy accounts in China, with profits sent back to Taiwan through underground banks.

The company website states that Xinliwang Group predominantly focuses on large-scale real estate projects in cities that have a lot of growth potential. The company previously issued a statement maintaining that Chuang is innocent.

Law enforcement raided a Taichung office in January 2020 that served as a money laundering hub for the operation. Investigators managed to trace the cash flow, leading them to Chuang’s company.

Investigators then raided the company headquarters last August and Chuang fled. The authorities got a tip about the billionaire’s location, leading the Central Investigation Bureau in Taiwan to track him down at a Changhua City safe house. Since his arrest in November, he has remained in custody because he is considered a flight risk.

China tackling offshore illegal gambling operators

While China and Taiwan have been in opposition of one another politically for many years, law enforcement agencies in both regions reportedly collaborate to battle illegal forms of gambling. With strict limits on gambling in mainland China, many illegal offshore gambling rings see it as a lucrative market.

The Chinese authorities are always busy tracking down these operators and working with the officials in other countries to take them down. After prompting from China, Cambodia banned all forms of online gambling from January 2020. While the Philippines wouldn’t follow suit, it is still hard-hitting in its approach to shutting down illegal online gambling operations.

In 2020, the authorities also cracked down significantly within China. Police made over 75,000 arrests and took down more than 2,260 online gambling sites.