July 21, 2024

Macau’s highest court has rejected an appeal by fallen junket king Alvin Chau to reduce his 18-year sentence for illegal gambling and criminal association.

Alvin Chau, appeal, Suncity, Macau Court of Final Appeal
A man believed to be Alvin Chau is led into a police car following his shock arrest in Macau in November 2021, above. The Suncity billionaire was later sentenced to 18 years in prison for illegal gambling and criminal association. (Image: The Macao News)

The ruling marks the end of the road for Chau, who has launched multiple appeals since his January 2023 sentencing, all now exhausted.

As founder, chairman, and CEO of Macau’s biggest and now-defunct junket operator Suncity, Chau was once one of the gambling hub’s wealthiest and most powerful people.

In 2014, Macau’s best year, Suncity was responsible for generating an estimated 25% of VIP market revenue, which would have equated to US$11 billion. For perspective, that’s more than the gaming revenue generated by the entire state of Nevada (US$10.6 billion) in the same year.

Playboy Lifestyle

Suncity became a multibillion-dollar conglomerate with interests in casinos, property, and entertainment through its core business of jetting mainland high rollers into Macau and lending them money to gamble. This allowed their clients to bypass restrictions on the movement of hard currency out of the mainland.

Chau lived a playboy lifestyle, but there were always rumors of a triad past. And there were signs China’s central government was running out of patience with Suncity and Macau’s junket industry in general. Beijing blamed the junkets for money laundering and capital flight from the mainland.

In 2019, a financial paper owned by Beijing’s official state-run press agency, the Xinhua News Agency, accused Suncity of generating billions of dollars through online gambling operations based in the Philippines and Cambodia which illegally targeted the Chinese mainland.

Prosecutors in Wenzhou, eastern China, issued a warrant for Chau’s arrest in November 2021. He was detained by authorities in Macau several days later and charged with running a criminal syndicate, illicit gambling activities, fraud, and money laundering.

$8.3B Fraud

As well as operating online gambling platforms, Chau and other Suncity officials were charged with swindling the Macau government out of HK$8.2 billion (US$1.1 billion) in tax revenue.

Between 2013 and 2021, Suncity offered many of its VIP clients illicit “under-the-table” bets. These involved multiplying stakes on official wagers placed by clients at Macau casinos, which would be settled later, tax-free.

In October 2023, Macau’s Court of Second Instance affirmed Chau’s 18-year sentence, but quashed his fraud conviction while letting the other convictions stand. Unfortunately for Chau, it also tripled damages he and Suncity were liable to pay to Macau’s government to US$3.2 billion.

Macau’s Court of Final Appeal upheld that ruling this week.

The post Alvin Chau 18-year Sentence Appeal Fails in Macau Highest Court appeared first on Casino.org.

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