Macau police say 46 people, including two local residents, have been detained after a cross-border operation to break up an alleged loan shark gang said to have provided a total of HKD4.2 million (US$539,000) to gamblers in Macau.
According to local media reports, the Judiciary Police said in a Wednesday briefing that the suspected gang kept money associated with their activities in 10 accounts in two VIP gaming rooms in Macau. The locations of the rooms were not disclosed.
The authorities said the alleged usury activities came to light after a separate loan-sharking case in Macau, early last year. Other suspects had been arrested in a separate raid last year.
In the latest disclosed case, the gamblers’ loans allegedly ranged from HKD80,000 to HKD300,000.
The police said the suspects skimmed up to 10 percent from the principal borrowed amount, and took up to 20 percent of any winnings acquired by the borrowers. They were said to made illegal profits of about HKD1 million.
The Judiciary Police said the latest cross-border enforcement action started on December 26.
Six suspects were detained in Macau as a result of the investigation: four mainland China residents and the two locals. Mainland authorities detained the other 40, including an alleged ringleader. Those suspects were distributed across an aggregate of 11 locations on the mainland.
The two local suspects allegedly organised the renting of five Macau apartments where debtors were held against their will, if they failed to pay back the loans as agreed.
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"We [estimate] that these illegal [currency exchange] transactions account for somewhere between 50 percent to 60 percent [of Macau's annual gross gaming revenue]”
Managing partner at IGamiX Management and Consulting