The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Nevada Gaming Control Board agents went to great lengths to infiltrate Paul Phua’s alleged illegal gambling operation at his Caesars Palace villa in Las Vegas.
The sting was conducted during July 2014 when the FIFA World Cup was in full swing and Phua was reportedly conducting a multi-million dollar illegal betting operation with the help of his son. Authorities accused Phua of having a sophisticated online setup that allowed him to receive and place bets on FIFA games. FBI agents went undercover as IT technicians to infiltrate his set up and find evidence against him.
Phua was estimated to have made more than $13 million from his illegal gambling operation and the authorities were confident that they had gathered sufficient proof to prosecute. 52 year old Phua is a Malaysian citizen and a well known gambler at casinos across the world. Authorities suspect Phua of having strong ties to the Asian underworld and rank him as one of the top leaders of the syndicate.
The US Court reviewed the case in detail and during the process found that the FBI had gathered key evidence from Phua’s hotel room without obtaining a warrant. Hence their carefully gathered evidence was dismissed by the judge and the prosecution had no further evidence to support their case. The FBI immediately filed charges for conspiracy in a last effort to prosecute Phua but the U.S. District Judge Andrew Gordon dropped the charge as well and informed Phua that he was free to leave.
Both Phua and his defence attorney David Chesnoff were extremely happy with the verdict. In a statement, Chesnoff said Mr. Phua’s courageous and principled stand helps to ensure personal liberty for all of us. He had faith in the integrity of the federal court, and we are gratified that he can go home to his family.”
The authorities who had earlier collected $2 million in cash from Phua as well as his $50 million private aircraft as collateral were also instructed by the court to release the items to Phua, along with his passport.
U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden was disappointed with the result as he firmly believed that his case was rock solid and a conviction was evident in the case. Bogden can take the case to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to see if they would overturn the verdict and convict Phua but the chances of obtaining victory and convicting Phua are now extremely slim.