Malaysia jails 24 Chinese, Taiwanese over betting ring
KUALA LUMPUR—A Malaysian court has jailed 24 Chinese and Taiwanese nationals for a month each after they admitted running an online football betting and fraud ring, their lawyer said Thursday.
The 24 were charged with breaking immigration laws, as the authorities found it too difficult to charge them with fraud as they targeted people outside Malaysia, he said.
They were among 215 people nabbed by police in a raid on April 5 on what appeared to be a highly organized and well-funded ring that operated from several luxury bungalows in an upscale gated community near the capital.
Police say that initial investigations revealed that the ring may have taken nearly four billion ringgit ($1.3 billion) in bets and fraudulent income during the month it was in operation.
The group took bets on English Premier League football games, organized other forms of online gambling and had been communicating with criminal syndicates in Mexico, according to police.
They are also believed to have carried out Internet scams that sought to obtain the credit card numbers of people in China, Taiwan and Portugal.
The 24 Chinese and Taiwanese were sentenced Wednesday at a court just outside Kuala Lumpur to a month in jail and ordered to pay fines of between 1,000 and 2,500 ringgit, lawyer Zaflee Pakwanteh, who represented 10 members of the ring, told Agence France-Presse.
“As the authorities found it difficult to charge them with fraud as the offence took place overseas, they were charged on immigration offences like entering Malaysia illegally without a passport or using fake travel documents,” he added.
They were among 30 people who appeared in court Wednesday, but six have denied the charges against them and will stand trial, he said.
The remaining six will face trial next month, with dates yet to be set, police said. Those who had served their sentences would be deported.
Football, particularly the English game, is hugely popular in Malaysia but sports betting is illegal.
Concern over illegal sports betting, especially on football, has grown in Asia after a string of scandals in recent years that have seen hundreds arrested and huge sums confiscated, notably in mainland China, Hong Kong and Malaysia.
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