In the latest of a series of controversial media reports and tit-for-tat industry responses, Alvin Chau, CEO and Director of Macau-based VIP gaming promoter Suncity Group, has initiated legal action against Australian media outlet The Age for defamation and what his lawyers describe as “false allegations.”
The furore started in late July with “Crown Unmasked,” a series of coordinated media reports by newspapers The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age and Channel 9’s 60 Minutes television program, all of which are owned by Australian media conglomerate Nine Entertainment. The trio leveled numerous allegations and insinuations against Australian integrated resort operator Crown Resorts and Suncity, one of a number of VIP gaming promoters, also known as “junkets” or “junket operators” within the industry, doing business with Crown Resorts. The Nine Entertainment reports included allegations that Chau was involved in large-scale money laundering and had links to organized crime.
The following weekend The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age published reports that Chau had been banned from entering Australia by the nation’s Home Affairs department, citing official sources speaking on condition of anonymity.
This was followed by a Suncity announcement on 5 August stating Chau had no intention to visit Australia in the following 12 months. The announcement also claimed Chau is not subject to any Australian investigation and clarified that Suncity’s Hong Kong-listed company had no business operations in Australia, as well as reserving “all rights against parties who disseminate incorrect, malicious or frivolous information concerning the Group and/or its Directors.”
According to a source familiar with the matter, speaking exclusively to IAG on condition of anonymity, Chau is “deeply offended” by what he describes as the “false reporting” of the Australian media and believes his personal reputation, along with that of Suncity, has been “seriously damaged” by the Fairfax reports.
IAG has learnt that Chau has gathered a professional team of legal consultants and finance and banking industry experts to advise him in relation to the allegations, and after considering their advice declared to his team he would “fight back.” A legal letter to the Editor of The Age, which IAG has obtained a copy of, would appear to be the first step in Chau’s fightback.
The letter, issued by a Melbourne law firm and dated 12 August, demands The Age publish a retraction of three allegations: that Chau is banned from entering Australia by Australia’s Home Affairs Department due to links to organized crime, that Chau has been engaged in large-scale money laundering and that Chau has links to numerous organized crime figures.
The letter claims the allegations are “untrue and entirely without merit,” are “obviously defamatory” and “have caused and are continuing to cause distress, embarrassment and humiliation to Mr Chau.” It also raises the specter of financial liability for The Age, stating, “Clearly, the publication of such false allegations has the potential to sound in significant monetary damages.”
In addition to a retraction, Chau’s lawyers also demand The Age remove the article alleging Mr Chau is banned from entering Australia from the newspaper’s website, and agree to not further publish or repeat the allegations.
IAG has learnt that Chau applied for an Australian tourist visa in 2018 and the application was not approved. However, we understand the view of Chau’s professional advisors is that The Age has drawn an incorrect conclusion that this relates to a connection to organized crime, thus misleading their readers. It is our understanding that no official explanation was issued to Chau by the Australian government.