Three suspects charged with fraud in a case involving Macau’s Dong Bo Group, which posed as a VIP restaurant, were acquitted by a lower court, leaving 23 people who deposited money needing to pursue recovery via civil means.
The case followed the arrest of two men from the company, surnamed Chan and Lam, by the Macao Judicial Police (PJ) on 30 March 2022, who were suspected of working with another man surnamed Shi to use “Dong Bo” as a VIP hall to obtain deposits from customers. Those deposits allegedly totaled HK$287 million and came from more than 200 depositors.
The prosecutor’s office later charged the three men with fraud and abuse of trust. Of the three defendants in the case, Shi was said to be the boss of Dong Bo, while Chen was the company’s CEO and Lin the Vice President. Shi has not returned to Macau since the arrests of Chen and Lin.
Dong Bo is what is known in some circles as a “drawer”, meaning they are not a licensed junket but cooperate with junkets to collect deposits on their behalf.
According to a report from Macau Daily News, the Dong Bo case was heard in the Court of First Instance where Judge Lou Ieng Ha said the prosecutor’s office had failed to prove any grounds for the charges.
Lou added that businesses operating as a “drawer” was common and that the reason customers were unable to retrieve their money was because of problems in Dong Bo’s operation. The process itself was not fraudulent, he ruled.
In particular, Lou said there was insufficient evidence to show that Shi had misappropriated the funds and that his use of the funds was not enough to constitute the crime of fraud.
“The customers were unable to retrieve their deposits because of the losses incurred in the operation of Dong Bo, and the non-fulfillment of debts arising from mismanagement and the prevailing environmental problems should not be confused with fraud,” Lou said.
The Judge noted, however, that the prosecutor’s office could appeal the verdict and that affected customers could seek compensation through civil means.
Dong Bo ceased operations on 29 September 2021.