$800b illegal bets crunch set for junket king
Alvin Chau Cheok-wa, chairman of Macau's biggest casino junkets operator Suncity Group Holdings, will face trial in September, with prosecutors saying he and his syndicate were involved in illegal gambling involving bets amounting to over HK$800 billion.
Macau said yesterday the trial will begin September 2 with Chau and 20 others facing over 280 charges. More than 90 witnesses are expected to testify.
The charges against Chau are for using the VIP rooms under the Suncity Group to carry out illegal gambling, which caused losses to six other prominent casino junket operators and less betting duties for the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau.
He faces 229 counts of illegal gambling and 54 counts of fraud and three counts of unsuccessful fraud involving considerably huge amounts.
Chau is also charged with unlawful operation of a casino for operating telephone and online betting service in Philippines and Vietnam.
The Macau procuratorate also charged him with leading a criminal syndicate and money laundering, while 19 other defendants are all mid- to management-level Suncity employees.
Chau will be represented by Leong Weng-pun and his team, which had previously acted for Macau's ex-chief prosecutor Ho Chio-meng and Hong Kong businessman Joseph Lau Luen-hung.
Chau, founder of Macau's biggest operator of junkets bringing in high rollers to play at casinos, has been in detention since his arrest on November 27 for alleged links to cross-border gambling.
Prosecutors have said they have sufficient evidence showing those arrested participated and led a criminal syndicate, with the two charges each carrying prison terms of 10 and 12 years.
Money laundering and illegal gambling each carries a maximum jail term of eight and three years.
Following his arrest, Chau's junket operations closed all VIP gambling rooms on December 1 and later filed for dissolution.
His junket operations, also called Suncity, are estimated to have accounted for a quarter of Macau's gambling revenue.
The closure of Chau's gaming rooms is expected to exacerbate the pain for casinos and is expected to lead to closures in parts of Suncity Group such as restaurants, bars, and hotels.