Police arrest 39 for illegal football betting during Euro 2016

Police seized cash of more than $650,000, computer equipment and other items possibly used to facilitate illegal gambling activities.
Police seized cash of more than $650,000, computer equipment and other items possibly used to facilitate illegal gambling activities.PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

SINGAPORE - Thirty-nine suspects were arrested in Singapore in an operation against illegal gambling during the Euro 2016 football tournament that nabbed about 4,000 worldwide.

Singapore police were part of Interpol-led operation SOGA VI, during which nearly 4,000 raids were carried out across France, Greece, Italy, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and China, including Hong Kong and Macau.

More than 4,000 people were arrested in the raids on illegal gambling dens handling an estimated US$649 million (S$875 million) worth of bets, said the global police cooperation agency on Monday (July 18).

Police said the 39 arrested in Singapore are suspected of remote gambling activities.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the value of illegal bets collected by these suspects was more than $2.5 million, police said.

Police said it seized cash of more than $650,000, computers, modems, routers, mobile phones and other items believed to be used to facilitate illegal betting activities.

After investigations, more than $810,000 was also uncovered and seized from the suspects' banks accounts.

Investigations against all the suspects are ongoing, police said.

"The series of operations conducted in Singapore reinforces the Police's determination to stamp out unlawful remote gambling," said Mr Tan Chye Hee, deputy commissioner of police for investigations and intelligence.

"The Singapore Police Force will continue to work with Interpol and our foreign counterparts to take tough enforcement actions against those who flout the law," added Mr Tan, who is also director of the criminal investigation department.

The number of seizures worldwide is the "highest and most significant" for such operations in recent years, said Chief Superintendent Chan Lok Wing, Head of Hong Kong's Organised Crime and Triad Bureau.

"The SOGA operations are important for tackling not just illegal gambling, but also the organised networks behind this and other types of crime," said the Hong Kong police chief.

Interpol also ran a second operation called Aces, which targeted transnational networks behind illicit websites and call-centre type operations running online scams resulting 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 said.

This involved Cambodia, South Korea, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

There has been a record spike in illegal gambling online amid a surge of Chinese interest in global football, Reuters reported.

The Euro 2016 final saw Portugal crowned champions on July 10, defeating host nation France 1-0.