A local branch of the People’s Bank of China (PBoC), in conjunction with other Chinese authorities, has conducted mass arrests and shut down online gambling sites for activities involving the tether (USDT) stablecoin.
Announced Thursday in a statement by the PBoC office in Huizhou city, 77 suspects have been arrested and three gambling sites have been shuttered.
The announcement came via the central bank’s official WeChat account and was confirmed to CoinDesk by a source who requested anonymity.
The arrests were made over alleged money laundering in which “whitewashing” was used to hide funds obtained through illegal online gambling activity, including through USDT, a cryptocurrency linked to the value of the U.S. dollar on a 1:1 basis.
The total amount involved in the alleged laundering is said to be around 120 million yuan ($17.95 million)
It is “illegal to open casinos and participate in gambling online,” the PBoC said. “Don’t be curious and lucky. Any ‘disguise’ can’t escape high-pressure supervision.”
In July, crypto over-the-counter (OTC) traders were detained in order to assist with state investigation efforts involving illegal economic activity, however, at the time, no arrests were made.
The gambling arrests come as the PBoC is closing on the launch of its “digital yuan” central bank digital currency.