Former Suncity Group Holdings' CEO Alvin Chau appeared in court in Macau on Friday to face more than 200 charges including illegal gambling activities, running a criminal syndicate, money laundering, and fraud.
The former Macau junket tycoon arrived at Macau's primary court on Friday afternoon in a prison van, as reported by TDM News. Lawyers from casino operators including Sands China, Wynn Macau and MGM China attended the hearing, along with Chau's family.
Chau stepped down as CEO of Suncity junket in December 2021, after he was arrested for money laundering in November. The arrest came after the eastern Chinese city of Wenzhou issued a warrant accusing Chau of operating gambling activities on the mainland.
Alvin Chau Cheok Wa
According to the above-mentioned source, the total value of the illegal gambling syndicate's bets exceeded HK$824 billion ($105 billion). Chau's syndicate is accused of having swindled casino operators by hiding the revenue and the actual amount wagered, which affected casino revenue and government tax income.
While Chau's trial was a long-expected development, the court has now been forced to postpone it to September 19, as 11 of the 21 defendants involved in Chau's case were absent on Friday.
Chau's Suncity was a major player in Macau until 2019, prior to the coronavirus pandemic, accounting for around 25% of total gaming revenues, industry executives said. Macau casinos generated $36 billion in revenue in 2019.
However, much has changed since then, and the junket industry in the gaming hub has collapsed since Chau's arrest with all of Suncity's VIP rooms shuttered last December. Many others folded, hit by poor sentiment and a lack of business due to COVID-related travel restrictions, as reported by Reuters.
Levo Chan Weng Lin, former chairman of Tak Chun Group
In January, Macau police arrested the second-largest casino junket boss Levo Chan Weng Lin, chairman and controlling shareholder of Tak Chun Group and co-chairman and CEO of Macau Legend Development, on charges of being involved in a criminal organization, illegal gambling, and money laundering.
Both Chau and Chan have been in custody in Macau prison since their arrests. Macau's government has tried to rein in junkets with a new law stipulating that casino operators no longer have dedicated junket rooms in casinos. According to analysts, their influence is likely to be further diluted going forward.
Macau is the only place in China where it is legal to gamble in casinos. Heavily reliant on gaming taxes, which account for more than 80% of government revenue, Macau has had little success in diversifying its economy. Junkets act as middlemen who help facilitate gambling for Chinese high-rollers in Macau, extending credit and also collecting on their debt on behalf of casino operators.