A Macau court has convicted Levo Chan Weng Lin, former boss of now-defunct Macau casino junket Tak Chun Group, of a number of gambling-related crimes, and sentenced him in aggregate to 14 years in prison. The sentence was read out on Friday at the city’s Court of First Instance by the presiding judge, Lam Peng Fai.
Mr Chan will remain in custody (pictured driven from court on Friday) pending confirmation of the sentence. He has been detained since January last year aside from court appearances.
He and eight others accused had been charged with crimes including being members of a criminal organisation, illicit gambling operations, defrauding the Macau Special Administrative Region government and the city’s six casino concessionaires, and money laundering.
Of the other eight defendants, four were acquitted. The acquitted defendants included Chan Kam Chi, a former Tak Chun staff member. The other three cleared were not from the junket group.
Of those convicted, Cherie Wong Pui Keng and Betty Cheong Sao Pek, each got 10 years in prison. Wayne Lio Weng Hang received 11 years, and Edward Lee Tat Chuen, seven years. According to the court, the four are “on the run” outside of Macau.
The judge issued a reminder that that there was a 20-day window to lodge any appeal to Macau’s Court of Second Instance.
Leong Hon Man, a lawyer for Mr Chan, told the media outside the court building: “We will study the verdict carefully, and have a meeting with our client.”
The court ruled that the illicit gambling group led by Mr Chan had run under-table bets in “24” venues housed in the operators’ casinos, judge Lam said. The court believed such bets took place in Tak Chun-branded clubs.
It was alleged during the trial that started in December last year, that those indicted had run a criminal syndicate that produced illicit profits of at least HKD1.50 billion (US$191.1 million at current exchange rates) over nearly six years. During the trial, Mr Chan had denied any wrongdoing.
Judge Lam said Mr Chan was found to have been involved in running for years under-the-table betting for high rollers in Macau, referred to by some commentators and government officials as the “multiplier”.
Such activity had been confirmed by documents obtained by the authorities from Tak Chun Group’s “computers, servers and offices”, as well as “testimony given by former Tak Chun staff in court hearings,” he added.
The judge also said it was proven that Mr Chan controlled two entities that were allegedly formed for the purpose of accepting under-table bets and operating such activities.
He stated the under-table-bet operation conducted by Mr Chan and some of the other defendants was a swindle on the Macau government and the city’s six casino operators, interfering with the proper process of taxation, and affecting the ability of the operators to obtain profit from their clients.
Regarding proxy bets, another strand to the case, the judge on Friday said that the prosecution had proven that such activities – even if conducted in the Philippines – had been promoted by Tak Chun staff to clients in Macau, including the settlement of wagers, a move that should have been subject to regulatory approval in Macau.
Judge Lam stated that evidence collected from Tak Chun’s computers included “several meeting minutes” that showed that Mr Chan and another defendant “had given instructions regarding this matter, and issued bonus to staff involved [in proxy betting]”.
The closing arguments in the criminal case concluded on March 8. During that session, Mr Chan urged the court to “prove the innocence” of himself, and the former Tak Chun staff.
Some of the city’s casino operators were also complainants in the case, claiming millions of U.S. dollars from Tak Chun Group. Wynn Macau Ltd, MGM China Holdings Ltd, SJM Holdings Ltd, Sands China Ltd, and Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd, were identified as complainants.
On January 18, 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. Macau’s Public Prosecutions Office had indicted Mr Chau and 20 other people for illegal gaming, criminal association, fraud, and money laundering. The prosecution and the defence have respectively appealed against Mr Chau’s sentence.
(Updated 9.05am, April 24)
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