Alvin Chau Cheok Wa, a former major operator of Macau junkets and founder of privately-held Suncity Group, denied during a Macau court hearing on Tuesday having been involved in online betting business. Though he confirmed his group had run so-called proxy betting services, where bets on a casino game are placed on behalf of someone not physically present in a casino.
Mr Chau appeared with nine other defendants – most of them former senior management at the Suncity junket business – at Macau’s Court of First Instance. The city’s Public Prosecutions Office has indicted Mr Chau and 20 other defendants for illegal gaming, criminal association, fraud, and money laundering.
At the Tuesday court session, Mr Chau said that Suncity Group stopped running on behalf of clients proxy betting services via Macau, after the city’s regulator issued an instruction in 2016 against such activity. He said the group subsequently shifted such services to overseas markets, including the Philippines.
Mr Chau stated that Suncity Group had ceased its running of proxy betting services via the Philippines in 2019, and had subsequently “transferred” such operations to an individual named “Richard Ieong”. Mr Chau had first given that explanation to the court during its Monday sitting.
According to Mr Chau, after such transfer, the proxy betting business was named “UE”. Nonetheless, according to two other defendants speaking on Tuesday, and that were formerly senior Suncity Group managers – Jeffrey Si Tou Chi Hou and Ellute Cheung Yat Ping – the proxy business had still been receiving operational support from the Suncity Group junket business.
On Monday, Mr Chau had mentioned that the “transfer” of proxy business to Mr Ieong had followed a Suncity Group press conference in July 2019 following mainland China media reports critical of Mr Chau’s gambling business practices. At that media briefing, Mr Chau had denied the group had anything to do with “online gaming”.
During Tuesday’s court hearing, Mr Chau reiterated his assertion that Suncity Group had not engaged in online betting business.
Mr Si Tou and Mr Cheung for their part, denied during Tuesday’s hearing having been themselves involved in the operation of UE. They each said they had acted only as “messengers”, communicating the needs of UE to Suncity Group.
The two have respectively pleaded not guilty to running online and proxy betting for the allegedly criminal group headed by Mr Chau.
The trial continues on Wednesday.
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