Former Triad Boss Behind New ICO, Poker Tourney Project in China
In an odd story all around, Chinese news outlets are reporting that a former prominent Triad boss, Wan Kuok-koi, has raised the equivalent of US $750 million within minutes of a related ICO’s launch for a new cryptocurrency that’s designed to serve as the medium for a series of live and online poker and chess tournaments throughout China.
The new cryptocurrency, HB, comes from a murky Chinese company called World Hung Mun Investment, a vehicle for Wan’s business activities… whatever they are, which is part of the murkiness and the story. Wan, known as “Broken Tooth”, a former boss of the powerful 14K Triad that has figured prominently in China and Southeast Asia for decades, spent 14 years in a Malaysian prison for his organized-crime activities before being released in 2012.
Wan announced the new HB crypto coin in a splashy series of events in Thailand, Cambodia, and the Philippines, with a fourth launch-related event scheduled for Malaysia early this week. Wan’s company plans to sell a billion of the HB coins, which will also be used as the framework for online-gambling offerings. The company plans to pay the winners of its live poker and chess events either totally or in large part with the HB coin; some smaller portion of the prizes may be paid in cash as well.
The companies’ plans for live poker and chess tourneys throughout China is slated to begin with a major poker event in the Chinese city of Hainan this October. That initial event was announced by Zhonggongxin Cosmos (Beijing) Internet Technology Limited, or Zhonggongxin Cosmos, for short, which also announced a deal with Wan’s World Hung Mun Investment a few weeks back. Zhonggongxin Cosmos’s back
Exactly how all this online crypto and online / live gaming events will work out in the wake of China’s recent ban on all Texas Hold’em smart-device apps remains to be seen. Oddest of all in this strange tale is that Zhonggongxin Cosmos appears to be claiming at a deal with China’s government to allow these events to proceed.
According to a recent update in the South China Morning Post, Zhonggongxin Cosmos may be state-owned, in total or in part. From an SCMP update:
Zhonggongxin Cosmos is a subsidiary of Zhonggongxin Assets Management Limited, which has a variety of business interests including asset management, construction projects in Russia, and hints at being state-owned.
On its website, Zhonggongxin claimed to be reporting directly to an advisory committee under the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (SASAC) called the Advisory Committee on the Management of Financial and Energy Resources and Capital.
Guo Jia, a member of staff at Zhonggongxin Cosmos, would not tell the Post whether the parent company was state owned.
“You can check the website and other materials online,” he said. “I’m not at liberty to disclose anything else.”
Regardless of the true nature of Zhonggongxin Cosmos’s ownership, the deal with Wan’s company smells of corruption and criminality. Crypto experts have already assailed the vague framework of the HB cryptocurrency itself as being “suspiciously vague”, with the crypto coin’s source code giving no indication of the total number of coins being created nor where or how money transfers within the crypto’s exchange framework will occur, thus raising suspicions of fraud and money-laundering.
The launch and gaming tours are also receiving pushback from many of China’s regulated gaming firms, a small handful of which took a hit as a result of the May crackdown. According to Su Guojing, the founder of the China Lottery Industry Salon, “When chess and poker games are paid with tokens such as cryptocurrencies that can be converted to fiat currencies, it becomes a disguised form of gambling in China. There’s a legal loophole on this issue.”