A senior Vietnamese official spent US$1.8 million (euro1.5 million) gambling on European soccer matches, and police are investigating whether the money came from government funds, state-controlled media reported Wednesday January 18.
Bui Tien Dung, general director of an infrastructure division under the transport ministry, placed a series of bets over a one-month period last year on top European matches, the Liberated Saigon newspaper said.
The bets included US$320,000 (euro267,000) on a Manchester United-Arsenal game in England’s Premier League and US$268,000 (euro223,000) on a Barcelona-Real Betis game in Spain, the newspaper said.
The Labour newspaper said police were investigating whether the funds came from Dung’s PMU18, which manages major infrastructure projects including the US$200 million (euro166 million) Bai Chay bridge in northern Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay area.
The newspaper said police have not yet launched a formal investigation against Dung.
Transport Ministry spokesman Nguyen Hong Hien said the ministry had asked the police for confirmation of the gambling investigation.
“We just know about it from the local media,” he said “If it’s confirmed by police, the official will be suspended immediately.”
Dung was among nearly 60 bettors who placed bets with Bui Quang Hung, a Hanoi policeman moonlighting as a bookie.
Hung was arrested December 13 for gambling with 21 colleagues in a Hanoi park during a break in training.
Dung’s name and the amount of money he wagered was contained on Hung’s computer, which police confiscated when they took him into custody.
State media have reported that police are investigating Hung’s possible involvement in an alleged match fixing scandal involving the national soccer team at the recent Southeast Asian Games in the Philippines.
Four members of the team were arrested and three others are under investigation for allegedly accepting US$82,000 (euro68,000) to fix a match against Burma. Vietnam won the game 1-0.