BANGKOK POLICE are using anti-money laundering laws against major bookmakers betting on football games, calling on the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) to seize their assets and check on suspicious transactions.
The police team heading up the strike against World Cup 2014 gambling announced yesterday it had arrested 80 football gambling suspects since June 13. It is led by Metropolitan Police deputy commissioner Pol Maj-General Chanthawit Ramasut.
Besides supporting action against major bookies, police are also monitoring students – many of whom are heavily in debt from gambling. Reports say some are resorting to theft or prostitution to repay debts – and police have instructed schools to keep an eye on youthful gamblers.
Also targeted are suspects hired to open bank accounts and electronic cards for the gambling gangs by submitting names for AMLO to check with banks about suspect transactions. If the banks confirm their suspicions to AMLO and police, money in the accounts will be frozen and wrongdoers will face legal action, police said.
Financial institutions that fail to co-operate with the AMLO could face fines of up to Bt500,000, they warned.
Acting Bangkok police chief Pol Lt-General Chakthip Chaijinda also empowered city police to crack down on gambling dens and slot machines and vowed disciplinary punishment on police involved in or ignoring gambling activities.
So far, Metropolitan Police Area 5 has recorded the most arrests with 20 cases, followed by Metropolitan Police Area 2, Metropolitan Police Area 8, Metropolitan Police Area 9 and the Patrol and Special Operation Division.
City police investigators said there were two groups of punters in Bangkok. First, the major players who directly phone a bookie and wire him the bet money. They bet tens of thousands of baht. People who gamble online were also in this group, which was hard to detect and break up.
Second were students and working people who joined the lower-bets football gambling. Private company workers were targeted by police due to higher stakes and huge debts that drove them to loan sharks. Police have asked companies to keep an eye on employees’ suspicious behaviour. They have also urged media, including cable TV and radio stations, not to advertise gambling activities or express on air views likely to trigger gambling.
In related news, Chon Buri police yesterday said they had rounded up 141 suspects involved in the World Cup 2014 result betting from June 11-15. The suspects – including five bookies, five ticket sellers and 131 punters – were apprehended along with 10 computer desktops, Bt56,000 in cash, two guns and football-betting tickets worth Bt285,690.