Information sharing key to INTERPOL's latest betting corruption raids

Information sharing key to INTERPOL's latest betting corruption raids

Monday, July 18, 2016 Posted by Andy McCarron
Two INTERPOL operations have seen 4,100 people arrested and USD 13.6 million seized

Global information sharing was the key behind INTERPOL’s latest strike against sports corruption which has seen more than 4,100 people arrested and USD 13.6 million seized.

Two INTERPOL operations stretched between Asia and Europe targeting illegal gambling during Euro 2016 and Jim Anderson, head of INTERPOL’s Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes unit, was pleased at the co-operation between agencies that made them possible.

He explained: “Illegal gambling generates massive profits for organized crime networks which are often linked to corruption, human trafficking and money laundering. The successes of Operations SOGA and Aces would not have been achieved without global information sharing and the significant efforts by the law enforcement authorities on the ground.”

During Operation SOGA VI (short for soccer gambling) nearly 4,000 raids were carried out across China, France, Greece, Italy, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam on illegal gambling dens. The dens were estimated to have handled USD 649 million worth of illegal bets.

While SOGA focused on local and national organised crime networks, Operation Aces targeted the transnational networks behind illicit websites and call-centre type operations running online scams investigating in Cambodia, Korea, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Aces resulted in 33 arrests.

Three offices running illegal online gambling sites were shut down in Thailand, and police in Malaysia arrested 15 individuals in connection with payment card fraud.

INTERPOL add that the computers and mobile phones seized in both operations will be analysed to identify the potential involvement of other individuals and networks across the Asian region and beyond.

Coordinated by INTERPOL’s Anti-Corruption and Financial crimes, Global Outreach and Regional Support units and its Liaison Office in Bangkok, both operations involved officers from INTERPOL National Central Bureaus and specialist units from across the region.

Chief Superintendent CHAN Lok-wing, Head of Hong Kong Police Force's Organized Crime and Triad Bureau (OCTB) and current Chairman of the Asia - Pacific Expert Group on Organised Crime, said that the number of seizures is the highest and most significant amongst similar operations in recent years.

“The SOGA operations are important for tackling not just illegal gambling, but also the organized networks behind this and other types of crime. The Hong Kong Police will continue to support INTERPOL in identifying and dismantling crime networks at the national, regional and global level.”

In addition to the operational activities, the OCTB also conducted a public education and awareness campaign via radio and television aimed at deterring illegal gambling.

To date, the combined six SOGA operations have resulted in more than 12,500 arrests, the seizure of around USD 53 million in cash and the closure of more than 3,400 illegal gambling dens which handled almost USD 6.4 billion worth of bets.

Totally Gaming Says: “Interpol has been investigating the areas of illegal betting since the launch of the SOGA operations back in 2007 and has frequently used the big summer football tournaments to flush out criminals taking illegal bets. With more enforcement agencies sharing information, it is likely that future operations will be even more successful.”

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