What is being described as China's largest online gambling case yet came to a conclusion in a Shanghai court over the weekend, when twenty defendants involved in a $1-billion online football gambling case were fined and sentenced to prison terms ranging from one to six years. All 20 accuseds pleaded guilty in January 2009, when sentencing was deferred.
The Shanghai Putuo District People's Court sentenced Qian Baochun (41) the prime accused, to six years imprisonment and ordered him to pay a fine of five million yuan ($735 000) for establishing gambling websites, reports the Xinhua news agency. Another 19 convicted accuseds, including Zou Jun and Liu Biqing, two second tier ring leaders, were sentenced to jail terms from one to five years with fines ranging from 20 000 yuan to 1.01 million yuan.
The gang started its business in the summer of 2006, when the soccer World Cup was held in Germany. Qian, Zou and Liu opened accounts on several overseas gambling websites and began to develop a network of agents and gamblers, hiring people and paying commissions from the enterprise's overseas profits, generated eventually from wagers totalling around 6.6 billion yuan. The initiating trio earned 1.6 million yuan between the latter half of the year 2006 and July 2007, alone, the the court was told by prosecutors.