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Illegal Betting Ring Case Could Fail Due to Procedural Errors by the FBI

Nov 03, 2014 - by Monica Erdei
Using tricks to take down an illegal betting ring didn’t work for the FBI

Using tricks to take down an illegal betting ring didn’t work for the FBI

Using tricks to take down an illegal betting ring didn’t work for the FBI. Now a high-ranking member of the 14K triad society could slip through its fingers due to “procedural errors.”

Last week, the word got out that FBI agents went into Paul Phua’s apartment at Caesars Palace disguised as cable guys, to gather evidence without a warrant. As more “procedural errors” come to light, the alleged gambling kingpin could get away with his illegal betting operation because the bureau itself broke a few rules while trying to get the bad guy.

US federal agents say Paul Phua Wei-seng is a high-ranking member of Hong Kong’s 14K triad society. Phua and his son Darren Phua Wai-kit have been charged with operating an illegal betting ring from a hotel in Las Vegas, during the 2014 FIFA World Cup. But they could both get away with it because of alleged breach of procedure by the FBI.

According to the latest gambling news, Phua’s lawyers filed a motion to suppress testimony he provided during a police raid, because agents didn’t follow the rules.

South China Morning Post: Procedural errors may kill FBI gambling case involving Asian kingpin Paul Phua

Phua and his son were arrested and charged with operating an illegal gambling ring in Las Vegas, during the World Cup. Now prosecutors have to prove that the two Malaysians used and operated these betting platforms from the luxury suites they rented at Caesars Palace.

Lawyers called the triad allegations unfounded and said the 50 year-old man “absolutely maintains he is innocent of the gambling charges in the United States”. Now they’re also trying to suppress statements where the defendants said Phua held a stake in IBC Bet, one of the largest betting operations in the Philippines.

Before obtaining these statements, police allegedly violated the defendants’ constitutional rights by failing to give a so-called Miranda warning, which informs suspects that they have the right to remain silent during an interrogation, until they get legal advice.

The two Malaysian men said they were staying at a villa which was offered to them free of charge by Caesars Palace. The motion says their defense lawyer was not allowed to meet them while they were being questioned.
In his affidavit, Phua wrote: “The first agent I saw pointed a machine gun at me and shouted, ‘Put your f*ing hands up’. Everyone in the villa was handcuffed, herded into the dining room, and told to get on our knees and face the wall.”

Before the World Cup, several illegal bookmakers have been arrested in Southeast Asia. Dozens of people were charged with breaking gambling laws by running unlicensed sports wagering services. Some of them pointed to IBC.

PokerNews: Did Caesars Palace and the FBI Collude in the Arrests of Paul Phua?

This July, eight people were arrested at Caesars Palace Las Vegas for being involved in an illegal betting ring. Among those arrested was 50-year-old Malaysian high-stakes poker player and alleged high-ranking member of the 14K Triad Paul Phua.

The arrests were part of an FBI sting and Phua’s lawyers claim the defendants’ Fourth Amendment rights were violated because the raid was conducted under an unlawful search warrant.

Investigations began this summer, when the defendants rented the villas and asked the casino staff for an “unusual amount of electronic equipment”. According to newspaper reports, the venue’s security personnel became suspicious and called the FBI, then worked together with agents to cut off Internet access to have an excuse to send undercover agents inside.

Posing as service technicians, FBI agents gained access to the villas and collected evidence to obtain a warrant in court. The defense argued that the warrant was obtained through an unlawful scheme.

“A ruling upholding these intrusions would cause innocent Americans to live their daily lives burdened with the palpable sense that their government is regularly scheming to spy on them in their homes,” lawyers said.

The federal government is expected to respond soon.

GamingZion: Gambler, Bookie, Diplomat, Gangster: the Fantastic Story of Paul Phua Wei-seng

Each year, illegal betting generates billions of dollars for criminal syndicates around the world. The largest scandal this year was when the FBI busted an operation run from two villas at the Caesars Hotel in Las Vegas. The head of the operation, reports said, was Paul Phua, a high-stakes poker player, former diplomat and alleged gangster.

Less than one month before being caught in Vegas, he had faced the same charges in Macau but posted bail and fled from the city. Newspapers said he flew straight to Sin City and continues his illegal business from here.

In addition to being a suspected black market bookmaker, Phua is also a legitimate businessman, owner of Sat Ieng Sociedade Unipessoal junket in Macau, where he likes to take a personal interest in entertaining his customers. He also holds a majority stake in IBC Bet, a company based in the Philippines which has grown to become one of the world’s most profitable sportsbooks.

From 2011 until his arrest in Las Vegas, Phua also held the title of San Marinese ambassador to Montenegro, although reports say he never properly checked in with the authorities in Podgorica, but did gain the advantage of traveling freely almost anywhere.

Phua is known in the world of high-stakes poker too. He makes regular appearances at the Poker King Club in Macau, and in 2012 he played in the $1 million buy-in tournament at the World Series of Poker.

Federal investigators say he is also a high-ranking member of the 14K triad, thought to be one of Hong Kong’s oldest and most powerful criminal organizations. It remains to be seen if the case against him stands or not, given the procedural errors committed by the FBI.

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