Canadian-Vietnamese soccer mafia boss nabbed

May 28, 2006

Thu, May 25 2006

By Mata Press Service

One of the suspects involved

with the long haul mafia

Vietnam police investigating a high profile corruption case involving government officers in Hanoi have arrested a Canadian who is reputedly the head of an international criminal syndicate.

The crime gang called "Long Haul" operates in Canada, Europe and Asia specializing in drug trafficking, money laundering, and organized betting on international soccer games, police said according to Vietnam-based news sources.

The Canadian was identified as 46-year-old Ngo Tien Dung alias Dung Kieu.

The Vietnamese native also uses the names Dung Hanoi and Lai Thanh Huu and reportedly operated out of Vancouver and Toronto.

A spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Canada told The Asian Pacific Post that the Canadian Embassy in Hanoi is aware of the detention and is providing consular assistance.

She refused further information citing the privacy legislation.

The RCMP, when contacted, said they had no information to share about the suspect.

Dung, according to a police reports in Hanoi was jailed in the late 1980s in Bac Thai jail for fraud and misappropriating other people’s assets.

Seventeen years ago, he allegedly killed another prisoner at the jail and escaped.

He then fled to Canada where he led the Long Haul mafia before returning to Vietnam in 1994 posing as a wealthy Viet kieu (overseas Vietnamese) investor.

Vietnamese media said Dung changed his named to Lai Thanh Huu in Canada, obtained citizenship and has traveled to Vietnam at least 35 times as an overseas businessman.

News reports said Dung is "the owner of five villas in Canada, one of which is worth US$7 million" and that he is believed to have laundered a whopping US$26 million in Vietnam through business contracts.

Major-General Pham Xuan Quac, head of Vietnam’s Department of Investigation of Social Order Crimes, said Dung collected an average pot of over US$1.5 million during every major international football game.

He said police were investigating how the gang channeled this money abroad to the bookies

Police, he said, have found assets and property worth US$20 to US$30 million registered in Dung’s name though it is unclear if he is their actual owner.

Dung’s arrest came as Vietnamese authorities were investigating a corruption scandal involving government officials taking bribes from contractors hired for a massive road development project.

The scandal centres around a transport ministry project management bureau known as PMU-18 – Vietnam’s richest state agency.

It manages around US$2 billion for road construction and other infrastructure projects, using government money as well as funds from overseas donors, notably Japan, the European Union, Australia and the World Bank.

Among those detained in the corruption scandal are former deputy minister of transport Nguyen Viet Tien and the project’s director general Bui Tien Dung.

The suspects had used upwards of US$2.6 million to place bets on international soccer games via the Long Haul mafia that was allegedly run by Dung and his henchman.

Vietnamese media reported that Dung has told police about his operations in Viet Nam and about his network of bookies in Cambodia, Hong Kong, Macau, Russia, Thailand, and Taiwan.

The Pioneer newspaper also reported that earlier this year, Dung allegedly offered US$50,000 to hire thugs to eliminate a man who had reportedly swayed the ‘gambling market’ in northern Hai Phong city.

He was allegedly bidding to control casinos there to launder money.

Two of Dung’s associates, Nguyen Ngoc Quang and Hoang Tuan have also been arrested while a third identified as Nguyen Van Loi is being hunted.

The arrests in Vietnam, which has dismantled a large international soccer betting syndicate, comes as police in many Asian countries work together to tackle the expected surge in illegal betting during the World Cup next month.

In Malaysia, police said the will use preventive detention laws and deploy plainclothes police personnel to eavesdrop at stalls, coffee shops and pubs to catch bookies and punters.

They are working undercover with counterparts in Hong Kong and Singapore to nab bookies.

Malaysia’s Federal police anti-vice and gambling chief Sidin Abdul Karim said Hong Kong has become the region’s illegal betting centre, with bookies in Malaysia and Singapore linking their operations there.

During the last World Cup, Malaysian police busted 10 illegal gaming syndicates.

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