Macau’s Judiciary Police said on Friday that a male Macau resident had been detained for alleged involvement in giving false information designed to attract public subscribers to a cryptocurrency supposedly designed for use in transactions related to casino gambling. The cryptocurrency subscription referred to is reportedly a project from a company called Lantai Digital Application Technology Co Ltd, which confirmed – belatedly in the form of an apology on its website – having had a launch event for the subscription in the city on Tuesday.
Judiciary Police spokesperson Lei Hon Nei said at a Friday media briefing: “The Judiciary Police learnt from media reports on April 18 that the company that did the launch [of cryptocurrency subscription] claimed that their digital tokens can be changed into gaming chips and used worldwide, as well as be used in online gaming. The company also claimed that they had cooperation relationship with Macau junkets.”
Ms Lei added: “But we have not found any Macau junkets that have worked with this company regarding the developing of its cryptocurrency. We believe that there are people using false information to attract the public to subscribe to the so-called cryptocurrency that they claim is a cooperation project with Macau junkets.”
According to the police spokesperson, the Macau resident was detained on suspicion of involvement in a scam and of organised crime. The man – described at the briefing as a driver tasked with taking gamblers to local casinos – was sent in person to the Public Prosecutions Office for further questioning. At least 10 other people – suspected of the same offences – are still to be traced. Most of them are believed to be residents of mainland China, Ms Lei noted.
Several Macau junket operators have issued clarifications earlier in this week denying having either business relations or partnership with Lantai Digital Application Technology. The junket firms also said they would reserve the right to take legal action against any unauthorised use by it of their trade names and corporate logos for the purposes of marketing or promotion.
The Judiciary Police’s Ms Lei stated: “According to our investigation, this [cryptocurrency subscription] launch event was organised and hosted by more than 10 people. Their roles included the setting of the venue, and the purchasing of congratulatory flower baskets.” She noted that the 10 still-untraced individuals were involved in that process.
“At the launch venue, the names of some of local Macau junkets as well as some other mainland Chinese companies were written on the flower baskets. But these flower baskets were actually not sent by these junkets and companies,” the police spokeswoman added.
Ms Lei said the Judiciary Police advised anyone that had subscribed for the company’s digital tokens to contact the police, although she confirmed no one had so far filed a complaint.
Lantai Digital Application Technology – which describes itself as a Cayman Islands-registered firm specialised in information technology – issued a statement on its website on Thursday night saying that its effort for the launch event of its cryptocurrency subscription had been aided by a Macau junket firm called Venus Group.
Venus Group had been among the local junket firms that issued clarification statements earlier this week saying that they have seen unauthorised use of their company’s trade name at the Tuesday event. Venus Group also had said that it had not authorised any institutions or individuals to “settle dealings” on its behalf in cryptocurrency.
“The so-called clarification statement issued recently by Venus Group contains a malicious intent to direct the whole case [the launch of the digital token] onto Lantai…Lantai preserves the right to take action against Venus Group,” Lantai Digital Application Technology wrote in its Thursday statement. GGRAsia approached Venus Group on the cryptocurrency issuer’s claims, but had not received a reply by the time this story went online.
During the Friday press briefing, the Judiciary Police also said they would make further investigation into the claims made by Lantai Digital Application Technology relating to Venus Group.
Casino investor Landing International Development Ltd’s name had also been used in the promotion materials presented at the Tuesday launch. Landing International issued a filing to the Hong Kong bourse on Friday stating that it had no involvement or interests in any affairs of the Lantai-related entities.
“The group has not commenced nor engaged in any discussions with any Lantai entity in relation to any potential cooperative or business opportunities..,” Landing International stated in the Friday filing. The firm also said it is currently taking legal advice regarding the matter.
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"Our main focus is just making sure – and particularly within Australia – to the maximum extent possible, that we can have uniformity [among different jurisdictions]"
Chief executive of the Australia-based Gaming Technologies Association