Paul “Wei Seng” Phua, a high profile poker player and the major defendant in a prosecution for illegal sportsbetting from a Las Vegas casino resort villa during the FIFA World Cup football last year (see previous reports) is not associated with the Chinese criminal triads, a Malaysian minister has certified.
The acknowledgement will help dilute a case put forward to a US court by the FBI that Phua has organised crime connections, a claim that the agency apparently made in good faith following an error by the Malaysian police.
The letter clarifying Phua’s status and specifically debunking the allegations of Phua’s Triad 14K connections, was sent to the top ranks of the FBI by Malaysian Minister for Home Affairs Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
The minister went even further, applauding Phua’s assistance to the Malaysian government on national security projects and urging his fast return to the Asian nation.
Phua’s defence team have been quick to capitalise on the letter, ensuring that it is filed with the court to support its defence that the FBI claims are based on a single sentence in a document allegedly provided by a person or persons unknown in the Malaysian police.
The challenge to the FBI’s organised crime claim is one of several in the Phua case; a judicial opinion is awaited on the constitutional legality of the FBI’s actions in cutting off internet connections to Phua’s casino villa in Las Vegas in a ploy to gain entry and gather evidence for a search warrant application (see previous reports).
Phua and his adult son Darren are due to appear in court on February 9 and remain on bail.