Macau’s Judiciary Police (PJ) has named a 47-year-old Macau resident with the surname of Chau and described as a “businessman” among 11 people arrested on Saturday as part of a mainland Chinese investigation into cross-border gambling.
A spokesman for the PJ told media at a press conference on Sunday afternoon that Chau is one of the 11 people linked to a “criminal gang” alleged to be involved in illegal gambling and money laundering, and one of nine of the arrestees currently classified as “detainees”. The other two are currently referred to as “suspects”.
The 11 arrestees include eight males from Macau surnamed Chau (47), Si Tou (37), Cheong (56), Ma (38), Cheong (46), Leong (37), Loi (37) and Wong (57), two females from Macau surnamed Ho (30) and Wong (37), and a male from Hong Kong surnamed Chau.
They were taken into custody after the PJ went to an office in NAPE and a residence in Coloane on the evening of Saturday 27 November, also seizing MOP$3 million in cash.
During the press conference, a number of items were laid out on display, presumably as evidence in the case, including computers, USB drives, hand written files and a large amount of cash.
Those arrested are all said to be “senior members” of the group, with authorities specifically using the term 犯罪集團 meaning “criminal gang” or “crime group”. The investigation, which the PJ says began in August 2019 and was heightened to a special case with an in-depth investigation in April 2020, is ongoing with police searching for more people alleged to be involved. The investigation is focused on “criminal association”, “illegal gambling” and “money laundering”.
According to information from the PJ, at least one suspect has admitted to being involved in online gaming and “overseas casinos”.
The detainees will now be transferred to the procuratorate for further investigation and to determine whether they will be granted bail. The PJ stressed the process will be undertaken in accordance with Macau’s laws but that they would cooperate with mainland police.
After the press conference, the arrestees were led away by police, handcuffed and wearing hoods to shield their identities.
Sunday’s 18-minute press conference follows an announcement on Friday by the Wenzhou Public Security Bureau that it had been granted approval by the People’s Procuratorate of Wenzhou to issue an arrest warrant for Suncity Group CEO Alvin Chau. Chau is accused of “opening casinos in China” via the operation of cross-border gambling operations on behalf of Suncity Gaming Promotion Company Limited, with authorities having launched an investigation in mid-2020.
The investigation, according to the Wenzhou Public Security Bureau, found that, “Since 2007, Alvin Chau Cheok Wa contracted junket operators in casinos in Macau, and then in 2016 started up online gambling platforms in [the] Philippines.
“In order to make illegal profits, Chau recruited Mainland Chinese personnel as shareholder-level agents and gambling agents, organising Chinese citizens to gamble in his contracted overseas junkets and [to] participate in cross-border online gambling activities by means of granting high credit, promoting gambling business, providing transportation services and technical support.
“Chau set up an asset management company in Mainland China to provide services for gamblers to exchange assets for gambling chips, helped to collect gambling debts, assisted clients in cross-border capital exchange, and used underground banks to provide gamblers with funds settlement services. A sizeable cross-border gambling criminal group, with clear personnel levels and regular members, was gradually formed under the leadership of Chau and people such as Zhang Ningning.”
The Bureau said Suncity had, as of July 2020, 199 shareholder-level agents, more than 12,000 gaming development agents and over 80,000 gaming customers in mainland China. The case has involved “a tremendous amount of money and seriously impacted the social order of our country,” with the Bureau calling for Chau to surrender in order to seek leniency.
On Saturday, after images emerged of Chau standing with officers alongside a police vehicle in Macau, local authorities issued a statement revealing the Suncity chief had “been asked to accompany police officials of the Macau SAR in order to assist with an investigation in relation to previously-gathered evidence.”
They also referred to plans to tighten the regulation of junket operators under revisions to Macau’s gaming law currently being reviewed by the Gaming Inspection and Coordination and the Secretary of Economy and Finance.
“All people taking part in Macau’s gaming industry have to adhere strictly to relevant laws stipulated both in the country and in Macau,” it said. “There will be no tolerance of any act deemed as violating Macau law, and any such act will be investigated.
“The MSAR Government has already had in place a relatively advanced system to manage the city’s gaming promoters. When revising the gaming law, the MSAR Government will strengthen its supervision of gaming promoters and their business, with a view to ensuring Macau’s tourism and entertainment industry will be developed in a healthy and orderly way.
Neither Chau nor Suncity were specifically named by the Judiciary Police during Sunday’s press conference.