Ex-Suncity boss Alvin Chau sentenced to 18 years in Macau

Alvin Chau, Macau’s ex-junket king who once branded Suncity high-roller rooms at Melbourne’s Crown and Sydney’s Star, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison at the gaming hub after being convicted on charges including criminal association was found guilty, crowning the downfall of the flamboyant former tycoon.

Chau was found guilty of criminal association, illegal gambling and fraud, local media outlet GGR Asia reported, citing a ruling by a Macau court on Wednesday. There is insufficient evidence to prove money laundering allegations, it said.

Alvin Chau was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Alvin Chau was sentenced to 18 years in prison.Credit:Bloomberg

The former chairman of the Suncity Group, Macau’s largest junket operator, was a leader in a lucrative industry that attracted mainland Chinese high rollers and provided them with loans. He was arrested in November 2021 for illegal gambling activities. The focus of the authorities’ investigations was “under-the-table” betting, a system in which players wagered a multiple of their official stake via a shadow banking system set up by Chaus’s group.

Since 2013, Chau’s group had managed nearly HK$824 billion ($149 billion) in such parallel gambling funds and raked in HK$21.5 billion in illicit profits, according to prosecutors. GGR reported that this resulted in a loss of HK8.26 billion in tax revenue for the Macau government.

The rise and fall of Chau demonstrates Beijing’s increasing influence over what was once the world’s largest gambling hub. After decades of easy profits and a reputation for helping China’s richest overseas money funnels, Junkets faced a crackdown. Authorities have arrested junket bosses and passed a new gambling law to increase oversight of casinos in a bid to halt capital flight and speed up the enclave’s integration into China’s gamble-free economy.

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Macau’s casino industry has also been hit by strict COVID rules that have kept many Chinese visitors away. Tourists are only recently returning after China abandoned its COVID-zero policy and opened up last month, but the crackdown on VIP players and the country’s slowing economy mean travelers are spending less, hurting the country’s prospects makes the casino industry less safe.

China’s actions have upset the gambling hub. In January last year, authorities arrested Chan Weng Lin, the former chairman of another major junket operator, Tak Chun Group. And mainland China has also tightened its Macau visa policy to curb frequent gambling visits.

Suncity tried to disconnect from Chau. In July, publicly traded arm Suncity Group Holdings – which does not operate junket businesses – was acquired by Executive Director Andrew Lo and later renamed LET Group Holdings.

https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/ex-suncity-boss-alvin-chau-jailed-for-18-years-in-macau-20230118-p5cdmj.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_business Ex-Suncity boss Alvin Chau sentenced to 18 years in Macau

Brian Lowry

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