Investigators seize villas
Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has seized deluxe villas connected to illegal online gambling in the popular beach resort city of Phuket. They are reportedly worth more than ฿2bn ($56.7m).
According to the local news site Khaosodenglish.com, Wednesday’s seizure follows the November 4 arrest of the Chief Financial Officer of online gambling giant UFA Bet, a man whose name was listed only as Mr Phakpoom, or “Deedee.”
The DSI has applied for arrest warrants for Phakpoon, his brother and UFA Bet owner Phuchit, a sister of theirs, as well as 12 others, including high-ranking police officers accused of having links to UFA’s large network of illegal online gambling affiliates.
Big fish netted
Director of the DSI, Police Major Suriya Singhhokmol, stated the villas seized were connected to online gambling and money laundering linked to the three siblings, who are the main suspects.
ex-cop accused of links to a multibillion-baht gambling ring
As reported by The Bangkok Post, the DSI stated that UFA Bet has an extensive network of affiliated online gambling sites overseen by senior police officers, including “Inspector Sua,” an ex-cop accused of links to a multibillion-baht gambling ring.
DSI investigators exposed the money laundering racket through accounts belonging to the 12 suspects, also uncovering 80 other accounts involved in money transfers. The brother of Mr Phakpoom oversaw these accounts, into which bettors would deposit funds. The DSI said 50 such accounts were registered in the names of migrant workers who either sold their bank accounts to the crime ring or were hired for that purpose.
An additional probe into UFA’s backend system allegedly found a credit inflow of over ฿72bn ($2bn) from international websites daily.
While Thailand lifted its ban on bloodsport gambling earlier this year, most other forms of gambling are illegal. Thailand is actually the only non-Muslim ASEAN nation without legal casinos. It’s estimated, however, that around 35 million of Thailand’s adult population gamble illegally.
That said, Thailand could pass legislation to introduce casino resorts as early as the next 12 months, and at least one resort could open as soon as 2030. It comes as part of a proposal to build five casinos in cities across the country, including Bangkok and Phuket.