Macau’s Court of Second Instance has reduced by one year – to 13 years in aggregate – the prison sentence for Levo Chan Weng Lin, former boss of now-defunct Macau casino junket operator Tak Chun Group. Three other defendants in the so-called ‘Tak Chun case’ also had their sentences reduced, while one other had his prison sentence confirmed, according to a ruling published on Thursday.
Mr Chan (pictured in a file photo) and the four other defendants have, according to the latest adjudication, been acquitted of fraud charges, overruling a previous decision from the city’s Court of First Instance.
According to the latest ruling, that means the five defendants will not have to make any payment – as a way of compensation in relation to the fraud charges – to the Macau government and the city’s casino operators.
The five defendants have however now been ordered by the Court of Second Instance to pay approximately HKD2.49 billion (US$318.9 million) to the Macau government as a way of compensation for gains from “illicit gambling” operations.
The appeal court confirmed that a criminal association charge had been proven against Mr Chan and the four other defendants. Other charges confirmed proven against Mr Chan included illicit gambling and money laundering.
A hearing in the Court of First Instance had in April last year convicted Mr Chan of a number of gambling-related crimes, and sentenced him in aggregate to 14 years in prison. Four other people had also been sentenced to prison. It was their appeals for leniency – and an appeal from the Public Prosecutions Office for stricter punishment – on which the appeal court has now ruled.
In April last year, the lower court had ordered the five defendants to pay just under HKD779.7 million in aggregate to the Macau government and five of the city’s six casino operators, as a way of compensation.
In April’s decision, the court said the five defendants would have to pay respectively: nearly HKD81.2 million to Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd; just under HKD47.0 million to Sands China Ltd; HKD36.8 million to Wynn Macau Ltd; HKD35.6 million to SJM Holdings Ltd; and HKD3.8million to MGM China Holdings Ltd.
The Court of First Instance had ruled that the illicit gambling group led by Mr Chan had run under-the-table bets in “24” venues housed in the operators’ casinos. The court believed such bets took place in Tak Chun-branded clubs.
It was alleged during the original trial that started in December 2022 that those indicted had run a criminal syndicate that produced illicit profits of at least HKD1.50 billion over nearly six years. During the trial, Mr Chan denied any wrongdoing.
On Thursday, Macau’s Court of Second Instance also reduced by one year the respective prison sentences of Cherie Wong Pui Keng and Betty Cheong Sao Pek: each got now 9 years in prison.
Wayne Lio Weng Hang saw his prison sentenced reduced from 11 years to 10 years.
The court confirmed the seven-year prison sentence for Edward Lee Tat Chuen.
According to information disclosed by the Court of First Instance in April when it handed out the original prison sentences, only Mr Chan was in the custody of the Macao authorities; the other four convicted defendants were said to be at the time “on the run” outside Macau.
The defendants can still apply to Macau’s Court of Final Appeal.
On January last year, another former Macau junket boss – Alvin Chau Cheok Wa – who headed now-defunct Suncity Group Ltd, was sentenced to 18 years in prison in aggregate. Last October, Macau’s Court of Second Instance confirmed the prison sentence for Mr Chau, although it acquitted him and other defendants in the case of fraud charges, stating they would not have to pay – as a way of compensation – HKD8.67 billion to the Macau government and a number of the city’s casino operators.
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