The People's Court of Shuncheng in Fushun, Liaoning province in China was the scene this week for an enforcement sequel to police raids earlier this year on an Internet gambling ring. And the court imposed fines totalling 150.55 billion yuan on the 42 ring members convicted in the case.
Given the heaviest punishment was alleged ringleader Yang Xu, who was convicted of operating an illegal business and running a gambling house and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment and a fine of 40 million yuan (about $5.8 million).
The other accuseds, many of whom were relatives of Xu, included workers, bank clerks, businessmen and unemployed people ranging in age from 24 to 61. The court ordered the confiscation of the operation's gambling money and devices.
The Shenyang-based newspaper Chinese Business Morning View quoted an unnamed judicial worker in the case as saying 25 of the 42 accuseds were convicted of both operating an illegal business and running gambling operations, whereas they would not have likely faced both charges in the past.
"It is a signal the nation has strengthened punishments for online gambling," he said.
Liaoning's police received reports alerting them to the illegal online gambling ring on June 16. Yang had apparently founded the 5.8 billion yuan online gambling group with his wife in 2005.
Zhu Chuang, vice-procurator-general of the Shuncheng Procuratorate, told the court that online gambling causes greater harm than ordinary gambling, because it often involves larger sums of money. And as many gambling websites' servers are in foreign countries, a large amount of gambling money flows out of the country through illegal financial institutions, creating a serious threat to the nation's financial security, he said.
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