The trial of Alvin Chau Cheok Wa and other defendants linked to the now-defunct Macau casino junket Suncity Group Ltd has been delayed to September 19, over the absence of a defendant, said on Friday the Macau court due to hear the matters. The trial was scheduled to start that afternoon.
Mr Chau on Friday was seen in public for the first time since his detention in late November. His appearance was in a packed chamber of the Court of First Instance, for a mention of his trial on multiple charges linked to alleged illegal gambling operations. Neither Mr Chau nor the other defendants present in court (some pictured arriving by van under guard) were asked to speak during the hour-long initial proceedings.
The three-judge panel postponed the trial for just over a fortnight, as defendant Philip Wong Pak Ling, identified as the former head of Suncity Group’s finance department, did not attend court.
A total of 10 other defendants also did not appear in court.
Mr Wong’s lawyer said his client was in hospital, adding he was not sure when Mr Wong would be discharged from medical care and be able to attend the trial. The judges however considered that Mr Wong’s absence was not properly justified due to a lack of supporting documentation, and issued him a fine.
Macau’s Public Prosecutions Office has indicted Mr Chau, the founder of Suncity Group, and 20 other people for illegal gaming, criminal association, fraud, and money laundering.
The defendants are accused of running a criminal syndicate that has allegedly cheated the Macau government out of about HKD8.26 billion (US$1.05 billion) in tax revenue from 2013 to 2021, according to a copy of the indictment reviewed by GGRAsia. A total of 92 witnesses has been asked to testify in relation to the trial.
A number of the city’s casino operators are also complainants in the case – via their locally-incorporated subsidiaries –, claiming millions of U.S. dollars from the defendants. The city’s casino operators are said to have lost out on as much as HKD2.28 billion in gaming revenue, according to calculations by the city’s casino regulator that were included in the indictment.
According to a press release issued by the court on Friday evening, Wynn Macau Ltd is seeking damages of MOP795.2 million (US$99.4 million) from a group of seven defendants – including Mr Chau and Mr Wong –, while Sands China Ltd is seeking damages of HKD300.7 million from the same group. SJM Holdings Ltd is seeking damages of HKD178.2 million, also from the same group of defendants.
MGM China Holdings Ltd is also seeking damages, in an amount to be set by the court, from a group of more than 10 defendants, also including Mr Chau and Mr Wong.
(Updated 11.30am, Sept 3)
Feb 23, 2024China’s State Council has added two more mainland population centres – Xi’an and Qingdao – to the list of places where people can apply for Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) exit visas to travel...
Full-year 2023 revenue recorded by casino operator Genting Singapore