The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Bangladesh Police has found evidence of money laundering through the online gambling site Betwinner.
In a news conference at CID headquarters in Dhaka's Malibagh on Thursday, the Cyber Police Centre (CPC) of CID made the disclosure after the arrest of three Bangladeshi agents involved in operating Betwinner's website.
Officials of the CPC said that the arrestees used to convert the money of the gambling participants on the Betwinner site into US dollars through a money exchange app called Binance. Later, this money was laundered to different countries through the app.
On Wednesday (31 August), the three agents – Abu Bakr Siddique, Abdullah Al Awal and Md Toraf Hossain – were arrested in a drive conducted by a CID team in the Chauddagram upazila of Cumilla.
In the press conference, Rezaul Masud, special police super of Cyber Intelligence and Risk Management Department of CID, said, "Betwinner popped up during the regular monitoring of the Cyber Police Centre, where people gamble online with real money. Later the site's three agents were identified and arrested."
Describing how the online casino game takes place, he said, "A gambler first opens an account on the betting site or app through a mobile number or email address, which creates an e-wallet against the account that gamblers call USDT. Initially, its balance is zero."
"There are multiple ways to add money to this wallet including bKash, Nagad, Rocket, Upay and Trust Axiata. Clicking on any of these payment methods shows an agent number. E-wallet or USDT balance is added within a few minutes after paying a minimum of Tk500 to the number. With this money, gamblers can later participate in gambling," the CID official said.
Recently, cricketer Shakib Al Hasan participated in the advertisement of this gambling establishment. Soon after CID started an investigation against betwinner.com.
Shakib's participation in the advertising of a gambling establishment drew stern criticism from various quarters. Besides, Bangladesh Cricket Board's (BCB) approval is required for a national cricketer to become an ambassador for any product.
But BCB did not know about the agreement with Betwinner. According to the law and the policy of BCB, any activity related to gambling is illegal.
Initially, Shakib refused to back out from the deal, citing that he had entered into the agreement with a concern of Betwinner, not directly with the betting site.
Later, when the BCB indicated to drop Shakib Al Hasan if he does not withdraw from the contract, Shakib gave in.
Officials related to the police investigation said that gambling organisations are campaigning with various strategies as betting is banned in the country. They are targeting celebrities and YouTubers. In addition, they are boosting their websites and apps on social media platforms, and trying to pass these apps as investment apps.