Paul Phua Receives Support from Malaysian Authorities

6 years ago
Paul Phua Receives Support from Malaysian Authorities
07:49
31 Dec

The illegal sports betting case against Paul Phua took a new turn when it was revealed that a high-ranking Malaysian official penned a letter to the FBI, informing the feds that Phua, a high stakes poker player and Malaysian businessman, has no ties to organized crime in China.

Phua and his son Darren were among eight defendants who were charged with accepting illegal wagers on sporting events over the summer at the height of competition during the FIFA World Cup. Profits obtained over a two-month period in June and July by the international gambling ring were in the neighborhood of $13 million, prosecutors allege.

Five of the defendants pled guilty to misdemeanors earlier this month, receiving large fines and probation in return for their guilty pleas. Charges were dropped against one other defendant.

That leaves Paul Phua, 50, and Darren Phua, 23, as the remaining defendants. The pair were set to go to trial on felony illegal gambling charges on January 12, but the trial date was postponed while U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen considers whether a search by the feds was conducted improperly.

The judge is examining the actions of the FBI, who purposely cut off Internet access to the Caesars Palace villas in Las Vegas where Phua and the others were staying and then posed as repairmen in order to enter the rooms and gather evidence needed to secure a search warrant. Attorneys for the Phuas have filed illegal search and seizure arguments as a result.

The FBI contends that the elder Phua has ties to 14K Triad, an organized crime syndicate based in Hong Kong. The group is believed to be highly active in illegal gambling and prostitution.

However, the minister of home affairs in Malaysia, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, refuted that contention in a letter to Deputy FBI Director Mark Giuliano. He wrote and sent the letter at the behest of the Phuas' defense attorneys, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

As such, to assist both your department and Mr. Phua’s legal teams, based on our information, Mr. Phua is neither a member nor is he associated with the 14K Triad,” wrote Hamidi. "Mr. Phua has on numerous occasions assisted the government of Malaysia on projects affecting our national security and accordingly we continue to call upon him to assist us from time to time, and as such we are eager for him to return to Malaysia.”

The letter was included in a recent court filing made by lawyers for the defendants. The support received by Phua is not limited to authorities in Malaysia. Other top poker pros have also backed Phua, including Phil Ivey, who reportedly posted the bail money required to secure Phua's release pending trial.

Hamidi is in charge of Malaysian security and intelligence, and informed Giuliano that he looks "toward the good international relations between our two countries, especially in the exchange of information.”

Paul Phua has lifetime tournament earnings of almost $2.9 million, accrued in only four tournaments -- all high rollers. His most recent was in April in the €100,000 Super High Roller of the EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo where a 6th place finish was good for $532,091, the Hendon Mob Database reported.

Prior to that, Phua cashed twice in April of 2013. He landed in 3rd at the WSOP APAC in Melbourne in a A$50,000 High Roller Rebuy that put $340,122 in his pockets. His bankroll swelled by $405,922 just five days later in the Philippines at the Asia Poker Tour Manila Millions following a 4th place finish.

Phua's largest tournament cash came a year earlier at the Aspers 100K High Roller in London when he managed to best the field of 20 en route to winning $1,621,297. He is also known as a regular at the high stakes cash games in Macau.


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Charles is a Chicago native and long time poker player who dusted off his journalism degree and began writing about poker following the events of Black Friday in 2011. He has written for a number of leading poker websites, offering his insights and expertise on subjects ranging from online poker leg...Read more

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