The trial of Alvin Chau Cheok Wa (pictured in a file photo), and other defendants linked to the now-defunct Macau casino junket Suncity Group Ltd, is set to start at 2.45pm today (Friday, September 2).
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 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.
According to the document, Mr Chau has been charged with founding and leading a criminal group; crimes punishable with a minimum of eight years in jail. The other people mentioned in the indictment were charged with leading or being part of a criminal group, which carries a lighter sentence.
Mr Chau has also been charged with illegal gambling. The accusations include provision of illicit gaming activities in approved gaming venues, as well as running illicit online and proxy betting.
The indictment said the group led by Mr Chau ran for years a form of under-the-table betting for high rollers in Macau, referred to by some commentators and government officials as the “multiplier”.
With the multiplier, the bet denominated at the casino gaming table actually represents a bet made privately that can be a multiple many times the ‘official’ one, thus avoiding paying on some bets Macau’s effective 39-percent tax rate on casino gross gaming revenue.
The indictment says that from March 2013 to March last year, the group ran multiplier bets with a value of HKD823.8 billion, generating illicit gains of “a minimum” of HKD21.5 billion.
The alleged multiplier scheme also meant that Macau’s six licensed gaming operators lost out on as much as HKD2.28 billion in gaming revenue, according to calculations by the city’s casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, that were included in the indictment.
A number of the city’s casino operators are also complainants in the case, claiming millions of U.S. dollars from Suncity Group.
Other charges against Mr Chau and some of the other defendants involved money laundering, and fraud against the city’s six casino operators and the Macau Special Administrative Region, according to the indictment.
The downfall of Mr Chau and the Suncity Group began in Wenzhou, in Zhejiang province, mainland China, when the People’s Procuratorate of that city announced in November 2021 it had “approved the arrest for suspect” Mr Chau, for having “seriously hampered the social order of our country,” via “cross-border” gambling operations involving Chinese customers, and concerning “huge” amounts of capital.
Shortly after, Mr Chau was detained in Macau on suspicion of facilitating illegal gambling overseas for Chinese customers. All of the junket brand’s VIP rooms in Macau were closed on December 1, 2021.
Mr Chau has been in pre-trial detention in Macau since his arrest in November last year.
An intermediate court in Wenzhou finished in mid-August hearing three cases on illegal gambling alleged to have involved Mr Chau. The hearings produced respective guilty pleas on gambling-related crimes from all 35 defendants. They will be sentenced later.
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