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Billionaire indicted for running online gambling platform

Tycoon's online gambling platform and money laundering made profits of NT$59.4 billion

Chuang Chou-wen is led away by Taichung police.

Chuang Chou-wen is led away by Taichung police. (CNA photo)

A Taiwan billionaire was among 32 people indicted by Taichung prosecutors Wednesday (March 3) for running an online gambling platform and engaging in money laundering that earned them an illicit profit of more than NT$59.4 billion (US$2.13 billion).

Chuang Chou-wen (莊周文), chairman of Taichung-based Xinliwang International Holdings Company Ltd., and 31 of his employees have been charged with gambling, engaging in organized criminal activity, and tax evasion by the Taichung District Prosecutors Office. The 50-year-old billionaire has been detained since his arrest in November 2020.

After he was arrested, prosecutors confiscated all of the assets found under his name, including 13 luxury cars, NT$1.2 billion and US$2.65 million in cash, and 41 properties worth NT$1.3 billion, to prevent him from moving or liquidating these ill-gotten gains prior to trial.

According to the indictment, Chuang runs the Xinliwang Group, which owns a total of 12 companies that have jointly operated an online gambling platform called "GPK Bet" since 2014. The platform featured 532 online gambling sites and 54 online gambling system providers.

Chuang's operation was busted in January 2020 when investigators found an office building in Taichung had been used as a money laundering center to transfer high volumes of money in and out of different accounts held by gamblers, many of them in China. Investigators later traced the cash flow and ultimately found that it led to Chuang's group.

Chuang was arrested in November 2020. According to prosecutors, the platform processed NT$123 billion in bets from 2014 to January 2020, and incoming and outgoing funds were handled in part through 843 dummy accounts in China.

It then used underground banks to move the profits earned from its online gambling business back to Taiwan in batches. Through this informal transfer system, Chuang and his company earned an illicit profit of more than NT$59.4 billion and evaded taxes of around NT$266 million, the indictment charged.

Chuang's Xinliwang Group had previously issued a statement claiming Chuang's innocence.
According to the group, Chuang is a certified international investment analyst, and his group mainly develops large-scale real estate projects.

Chuang holds honorary titles in Malaysia, Cambodia and Indonesia and he is also known for his philanthropy, according to the group.