Two Macau residents have been arrested by the city’s Judiciary Police (PJ) in connection with a criminal complaint that casino chips with a face value of nearly HKD47.9 million (US$6.1 million) were stolen from a Macau casino on Tuesday.
In a special press conference on Friday, a Judiciary Police spokesperson revealed that the two people arrested were related to each other. They were identified only by the respective surnames Lei and Ho.
No mention was made during the press conference about where the alleged theft occurred. But Wynn Macau Ltd has already confirmed that it was the firm affected. It operates two Macau casinos: Wynn Macau on the city’s peninsula, and Wynn Palace on Cotai.
It was alleged that Lei, who had worked in the security department of an unidentified casino starting in 2009 – and had become a dealer from February 2011 – was on duty in the early morning on Tuesday at a casino VIP club.
When there were no guests in the club and all but one of his colleagues had left the room, the suspect allegedly walked toward a female colleague also working as a card dealer in that room. He allegedly demanded she keep quiet and place her upper body in a prone position across her card table.
He then returned to his own card table. It was said that after that he put into a black bag casino chips that had been inside the chip tray at his own table. He also took off his uniform and put it in the same bag.
The suspect then walked out of the property and reportedly made his getaway on a motorcycle.
After investigation, the Judiciary Police concluded that Lei had arranged to meet up with the suspect, Ho, in the early evening on Thursday. Police officers then intercepted and arrested the two suspects at the scene. They also allegedly found on the suspects some cash and cash chips.
The police representative said Lei admitted having committed the crime. He also told the police that he had been a gambler since his teenage years and was heavily in debt, which he said was the reason he committed the crime. But he refused to disclose the whereabouts of the remaining chips that were stolen.
The suspect Ho, identified during the press briefing as an uncle of Lei, had denied his involvement in the case, said the police.
The force did not rule out the possibility that the suspects had already cashed the chips via underground banks.
In another development, the Judiciary Police said they had arrested three local residents alleged to have uploaded a confidential document to social media platforms and chat groups. The document is said to have contained a photograph and personal information of a suspect connected to the Wynn Macau heist.
The three were accused of “violating judicial secrecy”. Matters relating to them had been handed over to the Public Prosecutions Office.
The local casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, issued a statement on Wednesday saying it had asked the casino operator at the centre of the latest incident – though did not name it – to submit a report on the matter. The gaming bureau also said that subsequent to the alleged incident it had a meeting with all six Macau operators and asked them to step up the surveillance effort in their properties.
During the first nine months of 2017, the Judiciary Police opened a total of 1,323 gaming-related crime cases – a number inclusive of launched investigations and reports made to the force – said Macau’s Secretary for Security, Wong Sio Chak, in a November media briefing. The tally represented a 1.9-percent year-on-year rise.
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"The MSAR [Macau Special Administrative Region] Government is always maintaining its policy not to have imported labour to work as dealers. This position has not changed"
Lionel Leong Vai Tac
Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance