Junket boss Alvin Chau gets 18 years’ jail

2023-01-19 03:18     Comment:2

Macau’s former junket boss Alvin Chau Cheok Wa was yesterday sentenced by the Court of First Instance (TJB) to 18 years behind bars for a range of serious crimes such as running a secret society and operating illegal gambling businesses, as well as committing a raft of fraud cases, the Court of Final Appeal (TUI) said in a statement. 

Chau stood trial alongside 20 co-defendants. 

Other defendants were sentenced to prison terms of up to 15 years for a variety of serious crimes such as running a secret society, illegal gambling businesses and fraud.  

Si Tou Chi Hou, Ellute Cheung Yat Ping, Ali Celestino, Cheong Chi Kin, Chau Chun Hee, Lou Seak Fong and Philip Wong Pak Ling were sentenced to between nine and 15 years each. Three of the defendants were given suspended jail terms. 

Alvin Chau, widely known by his nickname “Sai Mei Wa” (“sai mei” means, directly translated, “washing rice”, but, in a figurative sense, is denotes someone who is very rich), was acquitted of money laundering charges. 

Chau, 48, is the founder and former boss of now-defunct gaming junket operator Suncity Group. He and six of his co-defendants were also sentenced to compensate collectively the Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR) and five of Macau’s six gaming operators for their “under-the-table” gambling businesses that were conducted on legal gaming premises. According to the TUI statement, they are to pay collective compensation for damages incurred by the MSAR (HK$6.5 billion), MGM Grand Paradise (HK$349 million), Wynn Resorts (HK$770.9 million), Venetian Macau (HK$295 million), Galaxy (HK$559 million), and SJM (HK$178.2 million). 

They also have to pay interest on the respective amounts counted from the date of sentencing to the full payment of the compensations. 

A total of eight defendants were acquitted. 

The mega-trial, which began in September, was centred on alleged under-the-table bets worth HK$824 billion over eight years, which defrauded Macau of tax revenue exceeding HK$1 billion, according to previous media reports which also mentioned alleged proxy and parallel betting businesses by Suncity Group for gamblers from the Chinese mainland. 

Pedro Leal, who defended Chau and Celestino, said he still needed to discuss a possible appeal with his clients. He also said he believed that there was a lack of evidence concerning the illegal gambling and fraud charges. 

Chau and several of his co-defendants were remanded in custody in November 2021. 

Normally, Macau’s maximum sentence amounts to 25 years, while it can reach 30 years in exceptional cases, according to the local Penal Code. 

Xinhua’s newswire dispatch about the case said that Chau was sentenced for “running a mafia-style organisation”, as well as for fraud and “illegally operating gaming activities.”   

A convoy of vehicles, with one of the white vehicles from Correctional Services Bureau (DSC) carrying Alvin Chau Cheok Wa, takes the defendant to the Court of First Instance (TJB) in Nam Van yesterday. – Photo: Maria Cheang Ut Meng

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