Political opposition in Malaysia is calling on Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, whom many consider a likely candidate as the next prime minister to explain his role in a U.S.-based World Cup betting scandal.

World Cup Betting Ring

Zahid HamidiIn July 2014, just after the World Cup in Brazil had ended, the FBI raided an illegal betting operation. The operation was hosted in VIP areas of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, and it was largely run by Chinese and Malaysia high rollers, many of whom had strong connections to international organized crime. there also rumors that illegal betting was also being conducted through online casinos new zealand but this was later proved to be false.

The Minister of Home Affairs

Hamidi is the current Minister in Malaysia and a prominent, fast-rising politician. He has also served in Malaysian intelligence and security services, which has given him connections with the U.S. intelligence community. After Wei Seng Phua, the alleged leader of the crime ring, and his son were arrested, Hamidi contacted the Deputy FBI Director in charge of the case. He vouched for the Phuas and denied that his country had any evidence that they are connected to a powerful crime syndicate.

An Important Story in Malaysia

Illegal betting rings and Triad crime syndicates sound like something out of a Hollywood movie, but the story has not generated much interest in the U.S. In fact, the when professional poker play Phil Ivey, who recently had his own case of illegal betting, posted bail for the Phuas, it barely registered.

In Malaysia, the story is considerably different. The Phua’s criminal ties are well known, and the criminal organization their associated with is a big deal. Hamid’s actions up until this point are curious but still rather innocent. His political opposition will not let this go easily, however, and if they unearth evidence that Hamid does have ties to these criminal high rollers, it will likely spell the end of an otherwise very fruitful political career.