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A court in Macau has sentenced Suncity Group Holdings founder Alvin Chau, whom the media dubbed Macau’s “gambling king”, to 18 years in prison on charges of fraud and illegal gambling. This is reported Reuters and BBC News.
The 48-year-old Chau’s company has been involved in organizing trips for wealthy clients from mainland China to Macau casinos, providing them with loans, managing high-end gambling halls, and also helping the casino collect debts from losing guests. According to BBC News, Suncity was the largest company in Macau in this area.
Prosecutors allege that Chau led a crime syndicate that facilitated illegal bets that resulted in more than a billion US dollars in tax losses for the Chinese authorities. In total, about 20 people are involved in the case.
The court found Chau guilty on 162 counts, while acquitting him on charges of money laundering. The businessman, who was arrested at the end of 2021, denied all charges against him.
According to the court decision, the “gambling king” must pay the authorities of Macau more than 830 million US dollars, as well as from 23 to 100 million dollars to casino operators MGM China, Wynn Macau, Sands China, Galaxy Entertainment, SJM Holdings.
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Macau is a former Portuguese colony and the only city in China where gambling is allowed. Tax revenue from gambling accounts for over 80% of the city’s government revenue. Macau’s total government income from all sources in 2021 made up approximately $7.5 billion.
In recent years, Macau’s gambling tour industry has shrunk dramatically amid tighter regulation, the coronavirus pandemic and its aftermath. According to official figures, there are now 36 such operators in Macau, while in 2019 there were 100.