26th September 2023 – (Singapore) Singapore authorities recently conducted an anti-money laundering crackdown on 15th August, targeting individuals involved in illegal activities. However, a man named Wang Bingang, who amassed millions through operating illegal online gambling services in China, managed to evade arrest. Wang, now 34, started his illicit gambling operation, Hongli International, in 2012 at the young age of 23. The Hongli group quickly became a lucrative enterprise, offering online gambling services to Chinese players from the Philippines and later Cambodia. Wang’s operation, which translates to “great profits” in Mandarin, generated significant wealth in just a few years.
While Singapore police arrested 10 foreigners during the operation, Wang Bingang and his wife, Wang Liyun, who resided in a rented bungalow in Rochalie Drive, Tanglin, managed to avoid capture. The bungalow, visited by The Straits Times (ST), revealed luxury vehicles parked in the front yard. According to the family’s domestic helper, the couple was in Singapore but not at home during the visit. However, others claimed that Wang Bingang and his wife had not been seen for about a month. It was discovered that Wang Bingang had joined Sentosa Golf Club in 2022, but he was listed as a defaulter, indicating outstanding payments.
The Ministry of Law provided a list of 34 names, including Wang Bingang and Wang Liyun, to dealers of precious metals and stones, flagging them for suspicious transactions related to money laundering. The list also included the names of the 10 individuals arrested during the operation. The total value of assets seized and frozen in the money laundering case has reached a staggering US$2.4 billion. The investigation revealed that Wang Bingang’s cousin, Wang Baosen, is linked to a criminal syndicate overseas, and over US$100 million worth of assets in Singapore belonging to Wang Bingang’s relative, referred to as Subject Y, have been seized or issued prohibition of disposal orders.
Wang Bingang’s rise to wealth and subsequent arrest in China were traced through court documents and Chinese media reports. He initially operated Hongli International from the Philippines, targeting online gamblers in China, where such activities are prohibited. The online platform offered various games, including blackjack and baccarat, as well as sports and e-sports betting services. The business thrived, but as the Philippine government cracked down on online gambling due to reports of associated criminal activities, Wang Bingang relocated his operations to Cambodia in 2014. The move allowed him to continue running the largest gambling website in Bavet, near the Vietnamese border.
However, Chinese authorities intensified their efforts against online gambling, leading to Wang Bingang’s arrest in 2015. Investigations revealed that the Hongli group used sophisticated techniques to evade detection, such as using different mobile phones, changing online accounts, and regularly altering Skype usernames. Wang Bingang was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison, while five of his associates received jail terms ranging from 10 months to three years. Despite the crackdown, Hongli International appears to still be operational, with active online gambling platforms accessible through social media links.
In addition to Wang Bingang’s case, Singaporean authorities are also investigating the connection between the 10 individuals arrested in the recent operation and another gambling syndicate known as the Heng Bo Bao Wang group. One of the arrested individuals, Vang Shuiming, is believed to be associated with the syndicate. Vang, also known as Wang Shuiming, faces charges related to forgery and money laundering in Singapore. The Heng Bo Bao Wang syndicate was dismantled in May 2022 by Chinese police, resulting in the arrest of 131 individuals and the seizure of over 10 million yuan in assets.
Online gambling in China has witnessed significant growth, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Chinese Ministry of Public Security reported over 17,000 cases of cross-border gambling in 2021, leading to the arrest of more than 80,000 suspects involved in illegal transactions worth over one trillion yuan. The authorities have dismantled numerous online gambling platforms, illegal payment systems, and gambling promotion platforms. Despite the efforts to curb illegal online gambling, syndicates like Hongli International and Heng Bo Bao Wang continue to operate, constantly reemerging under different names and website addresses.