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.
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.