Singaporean arrested in Vietnam for operating gambling website
Parents of S'porean arrested in Vietnam over online gambling unaware of his activities. Mum says: He was coming home for Christmas
The parents of a Singaporean man arrested in Vietnam had no idea about his arrest, or his alleged links with an online gambling website.
Mr Lawrence Wong Boon Leong, 35, was arrested in Ho Chi Minh City on Tuesday, reported Vietnamese news website Thanh Nien News.
Three Vietnamese nationals - Nguyen Thu Kim Cuc, 29, Nguyen Van Nam, 33, and Vo Dang Thanh Trung, 31 - were also nabbed in connection with the same website, police said.
Police believe Mr Wong is in charge of the Vietnamese arm of a multinational online gambling operation with servers based in the Philippines.
Gamblers are believed to have spent about US$44.35 million (S$62.4 million) on the site.
A video clip from the state-run ANTV, which specialises in crime and security, showed Mr Wong in handcuffs while Vietnamese police raided his apartment, seizing several documents, mobile phones and a laptop as evidence.
Gambling is illegal in Vietnam except within the casinos, which only admit foreigners. Those breaking the law face a lengthy jail term and a heavy fine, reported Thanh Nien News.
When The New Paper visited his parents' flat in Jurong West yesterday, they were shocked to find out that their son had been arrested.
Shown a picture of Mr Wong, his father Wong Keng Wah confirmed his son's identity.
"My wife and I thought he had been working for a company in Vietnam, we didn't know that he was involved in this thing," said the older Mr Wong, a retiree in his 60s.
Mrs Wong said her son, the eldest of four children, had told his parents via WhatsApp over the weekend that he was coming home on Christmas Eve.
"He asked me to cook him dinner, because he wanted to come home for dinner. He said he was coming home tomorrow," a visibly shocked Mrs Wong told TNP yesterday in Mandarin.
She said her son had a diploma from a local polytechnic and had previously worked as a real estate agent in Singapore.
But the property business was bad and on the advice of friends, he went on to operate a mookata (Thai-style barbecue steamboat) restaurant.
That too, did not do well and his losses ran into the hundreds of thousands, his mother said, adding that her son sold his marital home in Commonwealth and moved back in with his parents.
She added that this caused much friction between Mr Lawrence Wong and his wife of five years.
According to business records, Mr Wong is still listed as a director and shareholder in Yummy Thai Mookata, a company that was started in February 2014 and is still in operation.
In June this year, he was also made a director of Orion Wave Marketing.
This was also the same time that he said business opportunities had opened up in Vietnam, his mother told TNP.
Telling his parents that he was being sent there by a company, Mr Wong packed his bags and has been living in Ho Chi Minh City since.
The last time he visited Singapore was in October for a cousin's wedding, his mother said.
"He never spoke about what he did there. Every time we asked him how was work, he would say 'okay'," Mrs Wong said.
"If we had known he was going into an illegal business, of course we would stop him. Which parent would want their kid to get into trouble?"
The Wongs are now in touch with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) to do what they can for their son.
Said Mrs Wong: "We don't have much money to help him pay the fine if there's one. But I'm just hoping they (MFA) can help to bring my son back."
He never spoke about what he did there. Every time we asked him how was work, he would say 'okay'.
- Mother of Mr Lawrence Wong Boon Leong, who was arrested in Vietnam