Thai police arrest suspected Chinese gambling kingpin

BANGKOK, Aug 15 (Reuters) - Thai police have arrested a Chinese fugitive wanted by Beijing for allegedly running illegal online gambling operations, and will soon extradite him to China, police told Reuters on Monday.

She Zhijiang, 40, a Chinese national who also holds a Cambodian passport, was arrested last week based on an international warrant and an Interpol red notice, Thailand's deputy police spokesman Kissana Phathanacharoen said.

According to Chinese news outlet Caixin, She has been on the run from the Chinese authorities since 2012 and has been involved with illegal online gambling operations in Southeast Asia.

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Gambling is illegal in mainland China and online gaming operators, mostly targeting Chinese gamblers, have flourished in Southeast Asia in recent years.

"He is a suspect that the Chinese authority wants ... The extradition process to China is currently ongoing," Phathanacharoen said.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin, asked about the case at a regular briefing on Tuesday, did not confirm She's arrest or extradition but warned those suspected of cross-border gambling to turn themselves in or face harsh punishment.

"No matter what corner of the world a criminal suspect runs to, China will initiate law enforcement cooperation with relevant countries and bring the suspect to justice," Wang said.

According to media reports, She is the chairman of Yatai International Holdings Group, which has made gaming investments in Cambodia, the Philippines and, most recently, developed a $15 billion casino, entertainment and tourism complex in Myanmar's Karen State called Shwe Kokko.

Cambodia banned online gambling in 2019, saying it had been used by foreign criminals to extort customers and launder illicit earnings, following the proliferation of Chinese-run casinos.

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Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um, editing by Ed Osmond, Robert Birsel

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