China has successfully dismantled a massive international gambling network operating outside its borders, following an extensive two-year investigation that culminated in the seizure of $160 million worth of cryptocurrency. However, authorities suspect that the seized funds represent only a small fraction of the total illegal gambling operations conducted by the network.
The investigation revealed the network's extensive reach, prompting officials to believe that numerous other branches are involved, and the entire illegal gambling organization might be handling a staggering sum of CNY 400 billion (approximately US$56 billion).
The probe was initiated in July 2021 after receiving a tip from a Chinese national named Xiong Xong, residing in the Hubei province. Xong confessed to engaging in online gambling but decided to approach the police after witnessing large cryptocurrency transactions made by others.
Armed with this crucial information, investigators began their meticulous examination of the complex case and the advanced technology used by the group to cover its tracks, presenting challenges for law enforcement.
Throughout the investigation, Chinese authorities unveiled a vast global network that primarily utilized cryptocurrency to conceal financial transactions and evade the scrutiny of traditional banking systems.
With ample evidence gathered during the inquiry, law enforcement took decisive action, leading to the dismantling of 14 groups and the arrest of over 130 individuals in various provinces.
Gambling has been strictly prohibited in China since 1949, leading to a proliferation of triad-led gambling operations in neighboring countries. In 2019, China also outlawed cryptocurrency trading. However, despite these regulatory measures, cryptocurrencies continue to remain popular, challenging authorities' efforts to control their use.
According to Chinese media outlet Toutiao, the authorities sought assistance from the "digital currency issuer" to access the seized cryptocurrency, emphasizing the complexities involved in handling such cases.
This is not the first instance of Chinese authorities cracking down on illegal gambling networks exploiting cryptocurrency. In the past, they have targeted criminal organizations involved in online gambling and money laundering, resulting in significant cryptocurrency seizures.
Although stringent regulations are in place, cryptocurrencies remain an attractive option for illicit activities in China and other regions. As China progresses with the development of its central bank digital currency, the government is likely to intensify efforts to combat illegal cryptocurrency use and associated criminal activities.
By fLEXI tEAM