The trial of Alvin Chau, former CEO of Suncity Group, has finally ended. Macau Court of First Instance sentenced Chau, who was in charge of a Macau junket operator, to 18 years in prison. He has been found guilty on many charges.
Chau is the founder of Suncity Group, who was a pioneer in drawing Chinese tourists to Macau to gamble. Since in mainland China gambling is illegal, he used the chance to invite all of the operators and players to Macau.
Chau also has to pay a fine of HK$6.5 billion, or about US$831 million. The fine will be paid to the Macau government in civil compensation, and the reason for such a fine lies in revenue lost because of “betting under the table” in Suncity VIP rooms. There is compensation to five concessionaires as well: Wynn Macau, Galaxy Entertainment Group, MGM China, Sands China, and SJM Resorts.
The total amount of about HK$2 billion, or US$250 million, has been split between the concessionaires. Wynn got HK$770 million (US$98 million), Galaxy got HK$550 million (US$70 million), the part that belongs to MGM is HK$300 million (US$38 million), to Sands belongs HK$290 million (US$37 million), and SJM’s piece is worth about HK$170 million (US$22 million).
The verdict was announced on Wednesday morning, about four months after the beginning of the trial. During the trial, 21 individuals were included.
Judge Lou Ieng Ha commented on Chau’s leadership of the casino and said that he “conducted illegal gambling for unlawful gains for a long time.”
Macau Judiciary Police arrested Chau and 10 more people for alleged criminal association, money laundering, and involvement in illegal gambling. One of six has been awaiting trial in Coloane Prison. The trial began in late November 2021.
In early December 2021, shortly after Chau was arrested, the company announced the cessation of its junket business. At the same time, Chau stepped down from his position.
Suncity Group is a major player in the industry, holding notable interests in various integrated resort developments in important markets such as Vietnam, Russia, and the Philippines.
After the arrest, the Public Prosecutor’s Office accused Chau of 229 counts of illegal gambling and 54 counts of substantial fraud. There are also accusations of criminal association, illegal gambling, and money laundering.
The list of accusations doesn’t stop here: Chau also made about MOP$21.5 billion, or US$2.67 billion of profits. The origins of the money lay in “betting under the table” actions. He defrauded the government and concessionaires as well.
The defense admitted the existence of illegal betting in Macau but held to the lack of evidence regarding Chau’s involvement, as well as the involvement of other SunCity executives and employees.
Chau denied all accusations, saying: “I don’t know why Suncity is deemed a criminal syndicate. My colleagues have not seen a cent of criminal proceeds up until now … We have never paid additional compensation for illegal acts.”