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|The four masterminds of the Rikvip gambling ring|
On November 30, the Phu Tho People's Court sentenced Phan Van Vinh, former director of the General Police Department under the Ministry of Public Security, to nine years of imprisonment and Nguyen Thanh Hoa, former director of the ministry’s cybercrime division, to 10 years for "abuse of power or position in performance of official duties" (Penal Code 1999's Article 281).
The two defendants were also fined to VND100 million ($4.350) each. These penalties are higher than the ones proposed by the Procuracy, which requested seven to eight years of imprisonment.
Meanwhile, the two other masterminds behind the online gambling ring received lower penalties than proposed by the Procuracy. Former CNC chairman Nguyen Van Duong was sentenced to five years in prison for the charge of organising gambling and five years for money laundering. He gets 10 years in summary conviction for the two charges and was ordered to return VND1.7 trillion ($74 million) to the state.
VTC Online’s former chairman Phan Sao Nam was given two years in prison for the charge of organising gambling, and three years for money laundering. Additionally, he will have to return VND1.5 trillion ($65.2 million) to the state.
The remaining 88 defendants were sentenced to between VND40 million ($1,740) and three years of imprisonment for the charges of gambling, organising gambling, money laundering, trading in illegal receipts, and using the Internet to appropriate properties. 17 of these defendants received monetary fines for the charges of trading in illegal receipts and gambling. 22 other defendants were sentenced to non-custodial reform.
The verdict noted that telecommunication companies obtained VND1.2 trillion ($52.2 million) of the VND10 trillion ($434.8 million) profit of the gambling ring. Viettel gained VND913 billion ($39.7 million) and will have to return more than VND200 billion ($8.7 million). Vinaphone gained VND147 billion ($6.4 million) and will have to pay back VND13 billion ($565,200). MobiFone earned VND171 billion ($7.4 million) and will have to return VND15 billion ($652,200).
The court said that telecommunications companies had no supervision and management over the top-up cards sold, so they do not have to take responsibility for buyers using scratch cards for online gambling.
Finally, the court asked to clarify the responsibilities of officials of the Ministry of Information and Communications and telecommunications agencies because they did not detect the online gambling ring for a long time.
In the next phase of the case, several businesses will be investigated over assisting Phan Sao Nam with money laundering, for renting out servers for the gambling ring, and to clarify the relations between CNC and the MoPS and to locate the profit of the gambling ring.
The court recommended the government to build regulations on the use of top-up scratch cards for non-telecommunications services, and perfect the legal framework on the issuance of top-up cards.