China

Macau tycoon Alvin Chau wanted by mainland Chinese authorities over alleged gambling offences


Mainland Chinese authorities have issued an arrest warrant for the boss of Macau’s biggest organiser of junkets for high rollers, accusing him of running illegal cross-border gambling activities.

Prosecutors in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, said that Suncity Group CEO Alvin Chau Cheok-wa was in charge of a gambling syndicate that “causes severe damage to the social order of the country”.

Wenzhou’s public security department announced the issuing of the arrest warrant on its Weibo account on Friday, saying it had been investigating allegations since July last year.

Hong Kong police have not received any request from mainland authorities for held on the case, the Post has learned.

Chau is the founder and CEO of Macau’s Suncity Group, and also the chairman of Hong Kong-listed Suncity Group Holdings Ltd, the listed arm of the group and a developer of resorts in Asia.

Together with a person named Zhang Ningning, Chau was suspected of leading members of a cross-border gambling group and setting up casinos in China.

The alleged crime syndicate, comprising 199 shareholder-level representatives and more than 12,000 agents tasked with promoting gambling, had developed a network of more than 80,000 Chinese punters, the Wenzhou authorities said.

The group also established asset management firms to help gamblers with cross-border capital transfers, and to recover unsettled debts from punters and others.

Wenzhou authorities urged Chau to “surrender as soon as possible” to secure a lenient punishment.

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The Post has contacted Suncity Group Holdings for comment.

In 2019, Chinese state media accused Suncity Group Holdings of helping Chinese gamblers to bet via online casinos based in the Philippines and Cambodia.

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At that time, Chau was accused of encouraging online betting involving trillions of yuan, or equivalent to twice the amount of China’s annual lottery income. His online gaming business was said to have made tens of billions of yuan in profit.

State media claimed the online gaming business threatened the country’s social and financial stability.

Chau denied the allegations, but vowed to rein in the company’s online gaming and proxy betting operations on the mainland.

All forms of gambling, except state-run lotteries, are banned in mainland China. Gambling is permitted in Macau but tourists must have a visa to enter.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.



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