The Court of Second Instance – the appeals court – rejected the former Macau gambling mogul Alvin Chau’s fraud sentence as invalid.
The court’s ruling, however, is likely to be of little to no consolation to Mr. Chau, as the Second Instance court also affirmed the ex-Suncity boss’ 18-year sentence for association with criminal activity and illegal gambling. The court also tripled the compensation that he and Suncity are expected to be paid to the Government of Macau.
Alvin Chau was known as one of the most powerful and affluent people in China’s special administrative region (SAR) before he was arrested in late 2021. His company, Suncity, was the largest junket operator in the sector, generating approximately one-quarter of the high-roller revenue of Macau, which is currently the biggest gambling hub worldwide.
As CasinoGamesPro already revealed, he was convicted in January, along with 20 more Suncity defendants, of a total of 162 fraud charges, criminal association and illegal gambling charges. Many of these convictions were linked to Suncity’s practices of offering so-called VIP customers unlawful “under-the-table” bets in the period from 2013 to 2021. The illegal offerings involved illegally multiplying official bets’ stakes placed by high-rollers at Macau casinos that the operators would settle at a later time, tax-free.
Former Gambling Mogul and Suncity Must Pay Triple Damages to Macau Government
According to prosecutors, Alvin Chau defrauded the Government of Macau for tax revenue worth HK$8.2 billion. Apart from that, Suncity also faced accusations of operating remote online gambling platforms from Cambodia and the Philippines which illegally targeted customers from mainland China and Macau.
In February, Mr. Chau’s lawyers appealed his sentence. At the same time, the court received a petition from the SAR’s Office of the Prosecutor General to boost the former gambling mogul’s prison term by 3.5 years to a total of 21.5 years.
A week ago, the Court of Second Instance freed Alvin Chau and six other individuals of fraud charges against the Government of Macau. They, however, were still found guilty of association with criminal activity, which specifically involved the illegal exploitation of gambling both in an authorized location and outside authorized locations. At the time, the court also determined that Suncity had generated a total of $2.25 billion from so-called under-the-table betting and a little less than $1 billion from unlawful online betting services. As a result, Suncity defendants (Mr. Chau included) are now expected to pay $3.2 billion to the Macau Government.
As mentioned above, the former gambling businessman did not manage to get a shorter prison sentence. However, four other defendants – Chau Chun Hee, Celestino Ali, Philip Wong Pak, and Cheong Chi Kin – got their prison terms reduced from 15 years to 12.5 years.
The arrest and conviction of Mr. Chau, along with that of Levo Chan, the boss of Tak Chun, on similar charges, forced the special administrative region of Macau to pass laws aimed at alternating and restricting the junket operators segment. According to data provided by the Macau Professional Association of Gaming Promoters in June, there were 14 licensed junkets in the SAR, in comparison to more than 40 that used to operate there in 2014.