The Chinese media are reporting on what is alleged to be the country's biggest online gambling bust this week as the trial of 20 gambling ring employees commences in the Kunming Intermediate People's Court in Yunnan Province.
Wagers totalling 8.68 billion yuan (around $1.24 billion) were allegedly taken from a player base of 5 198 by the ring between August 2006 and March 2007, prosecutors told the judges, claiming that the ring profted by over 200 million yuan.
The prosecution claims that two brothers from Hong Kong, identified as Tan Zhiwei and Tan Zhiman were originally involved in setting up a gambling organisation in Myanmar (Burma) and then branched out into Internet betting, setting up a number of online gambling websites with servers in Guangzhou and Dongguan in Guangdong Province. The resulting network employed over 2 000 people in a variety of departments, it is alleged.
There were operational managers, IT workers and support staff, together with associates who opened hundreds of bank accounts to conceal the profits. One of the 20 defendants, Kang Zhenglong, is a former official with the Ruili branch of the China Industrial and Commercial Bank, and allegedly opened several hundred bank accounts for the gambling group.
The trial is ongoing.