Senior Vietnamese police official found dead amid illegal gambling probe

HANOI (Reuters) - A senior official at a Vietnamese police department in charge of high-tech crimes was found dead in his office on Friday, state media reported.

Colonel Vo Tuan Dung, deputy director of the department, apparently hanged himself, several state newspapers, including Dan Tri and Tuoi Tre, reported. They cited police.

Phone calls to officials at the High Tech Crime Police Department went unanswered.

Police are investigating Dung’s death, state media reported.

Dung was the deputy head of the department, whose former head, Nguyen Thanh Hoa, was arrested in March on suspicion of involvement in an illegal online gambling ring.

Authorities in April also arrested Lieutenant General Phan Van Vinh, the former chief of the General Department of Police, whom police said was suspected of involvement in the ring.

The two former officers have yet to face trial. They have made no public statements.

Officials and state media in the communist-ruled country often denounce gambling as a “social evil” but it is widespread. Police shut down dozens of gambling rings annually.

Last year, Vietnam said it would allow some citizens to gamble at selected casinos, in a move aimed at boosting domestic tourism and raising state revenue.

Vietnamese citizens aged 21 years and over with a regular monthly income of at least 10 million dong ($440) will be allowed to enter casinos for a trial period of three years, according to a government decree.

The arrests of the police officials come amid a corruption crackdown in Vietnam that has seen several senior government officials and executives of state-owned enterprises arrested and jailed.

Reporting by Khanh Vu; Editing by James Pearson, Robert Birsel