The trial of former Suncity Group CEO Alvin Chau began on Monday, with 10 defendants in attendance. Chau, listed as the first defendant, plead not guilty to all charges.
There are 21 defendants in the case, with 10 defendants present in court while the eighth defendant, Wong Pak Ling, was absent for health reasons. The other 10 defendants were detained by the Chinese judiciary and have signed a declaration of absence.
With Chau facing charges of “betting under the table” and online gambling, among others, the prosecutor presented a number of pieces of evidence investigated by the Judiciary Police, most of which were telephone surveillance and conversation records.
The prosecutor used the phone records to question Chau about whether he was in charge of certain companies involved in gambling and if he had any knowledge of “betting under the table” activities.
Chau replied, “The evidence of phone records don’t show anything about the betting under the table, it is actually about some credit problem between the customer and the company. I don’t think I am in charge of the betting under the table company, I am not involved in any interests or transactions.”
Chau also questioned the logic of Suncity Group’s handling of hundreds of thousands of messages over more than a decade if only a few dozen were shown on file as evidence.
The ninth defendant in the case, Cheung Ling Ling, is accused of running a company in mainland China under the trade name “Asset Management”, which is alleged to have helped Suncity collect repayments from mainland gamblers, including via some real estate developments [to disguise transactions].
The prosecutor questioned Chau about his relationship with Cheung, and whether the 21st defendant, mainland businessman Zhou Yongjun, used a real estate project as a means of repayment.
Chau explained that Cheung was in charge of the company’s asset management business in the mainland, but argued that asset management was not collecting repayments from mainland gamblers.
“The company has invested more than a billion dollars in the asset management business in the mainland. It is impossible that these investments are for the purpose of opening a debt collection company in the Mainland, which is totally illogical and inefficient.”
He added that he did not know Zhou before he gambled and had nothing to do with the gambling process, but that he had intended to invest in Zhou’s Hanfei project – a commercial project of Asset Management. Chau said he never used the strategy of receiving assets in the mainland to attract mainlanders to gamble.
On allegations of online gambling, Chau said he has been operating a Macau gambling business legally and did not participate in any online gambling business, although he pointed out that online gambling is legal in the Philippines.
Chau’s case had been scheduled to start on 2 September but was postponed due to the absence of defendants.