Soccer gambling ring's mastermind nabbed

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 July, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 July, 2010, 12:00am

The Hong Kong ringleader of an internet soccer gambling racket with dealings of 100 billion yuan (HK$115 billion) has been arrested by mainland police, a Guangzhou newspaper has reported.

The Hong Kong man nicknamed 'Dark Brother', a woman nicknamed 'Old Cat' who kept the books, and other associates were arrested in an operation that police believe smashed a syndicate that had operated since 2006, the Guangzhou Daily said.

The arrests were made in Shenzhen on June 7 in a nightclub owned by the alleged mastermind, four days before the World Cup tournament kicked off. The syndicate collected bets on soccer matches through its online network across the mainland, police said.

On the night of June 6, public security officers posing as drinking customers went to the private club to carry out surveillance. The alleged leader, who was holding a party inside, was seized as he left the club early on June 7, the paper reported.

It said 'Old Cat' worked from her flat in Shenzhen, where she lived with a child. Describing the syndicate as sophisticated, the newspaper said it had hundreds of members who collected bets from punters in Guangdong, Guangxi , Fujian , Hunan and Zhejiang provinces as well as Shanghai.

The arrests are part of a continuing crackdown against illegal bookmaking on the mainland.

On June 12, Hong Kong and Shenzhen police broke up a 70-strong cross-border gambling syndicate and seized more than HK$100 million worth of illegal bets on World Cup soccer matches.

In Hong Kong, 19 men and six women, aged 34 to 67, were caught on Saturday night on suspicion of taking illegal soccer bets and handling the proceeds of crime. Shenzhen police arrested 45 people including three Hongkongers, one of whom is an alleged ringleader.