Macau arrests 11 people for illegal gambling and money laundering

A logo of Macau’s junket operator Suncity Group is seen at a gaming fair in Macau, China on November 18, 2015. REUTERS / Bobby Yip // File Photo

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HONG KONG, Nov.28 (Reuters) – Macau police said on Sunday that they had arrested 11 people in an investigation into an illegal gambling and money laundering syndicate, a day after the man businessman Alvin Chau, who organizes trips to Asian casinos for high-rollers, was questioned at a police station.

Police said in a statement that those involved in the case admitted the group had operated gambling sites or telemarketing activities in other locations.

Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post reported that in a press conference on Sunday, the Macau Judicial Police did not name the individuals but said they included a 47-year-old businessman from Macau surnamed Hot.

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It was not clear if this was Alvin Chau, chairman of Suncity Group Holdings Ltd (1383.HK). He is also the founder of a separate legal entity also known as Suncity, the largest “junket operator” in the Special Administrative Region, which operates VIP gambling halls across Asia.

Junket operators are middlemen who get big players to gamble in casinos, grant them credit and collect their debts. Macau itself is known as the Las Vegas of Asia and has grown rich thanks to the gambling industry.

Suncity’s junket operator could not be reached for comment. Representatives of Hong Kong-listed Sun City Group Holdings could not be contacted by phone and did not respond to email inquiries seeking comment on behalf of the company or Chau.

A spokesperson for the Macao Judicial Police did not respond to phone calls seeking comment.

Authorities in east China’s Wenzhou City said on Friday that an investigation revealed that Alvin Chau had formed a network of junket agents on the mainland to help citizens engage in offshore and cross-border gambling activities.

The Macau government said on Saturday that he was taken to the police station for questioning, based on previous evidence and after receiving notification of the arrest warrant from mainland authorities.

GGRAsia, a media outlet on the casino industry in Asia, quoted a Suncity spokesperson as saying via email early on Saturday: “All businesses are operating normally under the law and under the supervision of the Special Administrative Region government. Macao “.

Chau is also a majority shareholder of Sun Entertainment Group Ltd. (8082.HK), a film production and cremation services company, which said in an exchange on Sunday that its board of directors took note of the media coverage of the investigations in Wenzhou and Macau.

“The Board wishes to stress that the media coverage concerns the personal affairs of Mr. Chau. The Board is of the opinion that the Incident has no significant impact on the financial situation, the activities or the functioning of the Group”, deposit said.

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Reporting by Alun John; Editing by William Mallard and Angus MacSwan

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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