A man convicted of leading a loan-sharking gang targeting Macau casino customers has been jailed for 16 years by a court in the city. He has also been given a 20-year ban from entering Macau casinos, reported Chinese-language newspaper Macao Daily News on Friday, citing a ruling said to have been made recently by the city’s Court of First Instance.
The report did not specify when the ruling was made, but said it related to a case involving a total of 27 defendants. They were among 113 people identified by Macau police intelligence in 2016. An operation to make arrests in the case was based on a tip-off about their alleged loan-sharking activities in the vicinity of Cotai casinos.
The ringleader earning the 16-year sentence was not named in the local news report, but was described as a 46-year-old Hong Kong ID holder. He was found guilty of 32 counts of gaming-related usury, as well as of leading or instructing organised crime, Macao Daily News reported, citing the Court of First Instance.
Six other “core members” of the loan-sharking gang were sentenced to jail terms of between eight and 10 years, and banned from entering the city’s casinos for periods ranging between 10 and 20 years. They had been found guilty of participating in or supporting organised crime, gaming-related usury, operating illegal gambling business and depriving others of their liberty, the newspaper reported.
Only two out of the 27 defendants were found not guilty. The balance of 18 defendants each received jail time ranging from four months to more than three years, for participation in loan-sharking.
In the first half of this year, Macau had a total of 295 cases of alleged gaming-related loan-sharking, representing a 16.1 percent increase year-on-year, according to figures released by Macau authorities last month.
During the first half this year, Macau’s police forces recorded an aggregate of 169 cases of alleged unlawful detention relating to gaming, a figure that represented 17.4 percent increase when compared to the same period last year.
The Macau authorities label cases as gaming-related when they take place inside a casino or in its surroundings.
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”The [Macau] junket sector ... feels that more stringent requirements can enhance the reputation for the sector as a whole, so they [the junkets] are willing to comply with it in order for the sector to sustain a healthy development for the long term”
Paulo Martins Chan
Director of Macau's Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau