Alvin Chau Cheok Wa (pictured in a file photo), founder and one-time boss of former Macau junket operator Suncity Group, asserted during a Wednesday session of his criminal trial in the city that some asset management projects in mainland China had “no links” – as suggested by the prosecution – with settlement of player debts owed from under-the-table betting in Macau known as the multiplier.
Mr Chau denied previously the multiplier was part of Suncity’s operation.
The “multiplier” is illicit gambling involving a private arrangement where the face value of the player’s bet shown on a table, is multiplied many times for the purposes of play and bet settlement. The Macau authorities have said that iself is a form of tax evasion relative to the near-40-percent effective tax on declared gross gaming revenue.
“There are no links between asset management in the mainland, and under-the-table bets,” Mr Chau told the court, pausing slightly between phrases.
But he added that “some gambling debts might have been involved” with some Suncity Group investment deals on the mainland.
“It is definitely not true that we had asset investments [in mainland China] because we did under-the-table bets,” he stated.
Mr Chau’s brief Wednesday afternoon remarks in open court followed over two hours of testimony from a Judiciary Police officer, Mak Weng Kin. Mr Mak said he had been tasked with investigating the alleged multi-year involvement of Mr Chau and Suncity Group in under-the-table bets in Macau.
The officer told the court that his inquiry team had found evidence of several real estate investment projects that Suncity Group had acquired in mainland China, based on documents extracted from the group’s computer servers and from Mr Chau’s office. Mr Mak claimed the projects were a means for certain mainland China gamblers to repay debts incurred after taking part in the under-the-table bets in Suncity Group VIP gaming clubs in Macau.
‘Mysterious’ inside group: police
Mr Chau challenged claims by Mr Mak and by prosecutors previously, that he had ties to an operation called “Chu Tai Ying”, which in Cantonese, means “main camp”. The prosecution allege it was a facilitator of multiplier betting.
The Judiciary Police’s Mr Mak said investigations led to the conclusion that several multiplier-bet groups had been formed over years, and some of them were directly operated by Suncity Group.
These multiplier bet groups had been formed as a means to “increase operating capital” and “diversify” business risks from such gambling activities, according to a copy of the indictment as reviewed by GGRAsia.
Mr Chau and 20 other defendants face charges of illegal gaming, criminal association, fraud, and money laundering. Mr Chau is also charged with leading a criminal group.
Mr Mak told the Wednesday hearing: “The police can conclude that Mr Chau has led the [Suncity Group] departments of marketing, accounting, operation, cages and IT [information technology] to take part in under-the-table bets. These illicit acts had been processed, with data recorded [in the group's systems] and calculated.”
The officer alleged the word “operation” was used as a guise and as a special “code word” by the junket group, to run the illicit under-the-table bets. Such activities were controlled and run by the so-called “operation department”, Mr Mak added.
He also said that the police found on Suncity Group’s computer servers a staff guidance document, dated 2018, that reminded workers to avoid using the word “operation” in any materials submitted for review either to the Macau gaming regulator or the city’s casino concessionaires.
“The operation department is a mysterious department within Suncity Group that specialised in handling under-the-table bets,” stated Mr Mak.
“This department is confirmed to have been led by Cheong Chi Kin,” he added. Mr Mak further asserted that the police had extracted records of mobile phone conversations between Mr Chau’s secretary, Wong Sok I, and the junket boss, that could prove Mr Cheong’s subordination to Mr Chau over matters related to under-the-table bets.
Mr Cheong is a fellow defendant in the case. In a late September session, Mr Cheong had described himself as a “friend” of Mr Chau, and who had worked as a Suncity Group “junket agent”. He admitted at the time of the September sesssion, to having conducted multiplier bet business in VIP rooms run by Suncity Group, as well as in rooms run by other junket operators in Macau.
At the Wednesday court session, investigator Mr Mak showed to the court a digital presentation prepared by the Judiciary Police, explaining how an under-the-table bet works. He also produced documents said to have been seized from Suncity Group, that were allegedly “education materials” for the junket firm’s staff to learn how to handle and record under-the-table bets.
The trial continues.
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