Macau convicts ‘junket king’ Alvin Chau

MACAU: Macau‘s former “junket kingAlvin Chau was found guilty of running an illegal gambling empire Wednesday, ending a criminal trial that shocked the casino hub and toppled one of its highest-profile gaming tycoons.
The 48-year-old founder of Suncity Group pioneered the junket industry that brought high rollers from mainland China to gamble in Macau, the only place in the country where casinos operate legally.
At its peak during the 2010s, junkets contributed the bulk of gaming revenue for the former Portuguese colony, which boasted a pre-pandemic casino industry bigger than Las Vegas.
Chau’s downfall coincided with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s years-long anti-corruption drive, which has included much closer scrutiny of corrupt officials who might travel to Macau to place bets and launder money.
Prosecutors charged Chau with 289 counts of fraud, money laundering and illegal gambling — crimes that could land him in jail for decades.
Judge Lou Ieng Ha on Wednesday found Chau guilty of fraud, running a criminal syndicate and operating illegal bets, but acquitted him on the money laundering charge.
Suncity under Chau’s leadership “conducted illegal gambling for unlawful gains for a long time,” she said in her ruling.
The trial, which began in September, centred on alleged under-the-table bets worth HK$824 billion ($106 billion) over eight years, which defrauded Macau of tax revenue exceeding HK$1 billion.
Chau, who was charged alongside 20 co-defendants, was also accused of facilitating proxy betting for Chinese customers to gamble remotely in casinos based in Southeast Asia.
The defence acknowledged that under-the-table betting existed in Macau, but pointed to the lack of direct evidence implicating Chau, Suncity executives or employees.

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