Officers Seize $56.7m Luxury Phuket Villas Linked to Online Gambling Ring    

  • The villas seized are linked to the two brothers and one sister behind UFA Bet  
  • The DSI found 80 bank accounts involved in illegal money transfers 
  • Gambling is illegal in Thailand, but that could all change with a casino proposal
DSI headquarters in Thailand
Special investigators in Thailand have seized two multimillion-dollar villas belonging to a sibling-run online gambling ring. [Image:]

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, 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

Thai gambling

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.

The Thailand property seizures come in the same week a historic trial in Calabria saw the court hand out a collective 2,200-year prison sentence to members of the Italian crime syndicate, ‘Ndrangheta. The group laundered billions of euros through online gambling companies in Malta.

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