July 5, 2024 3 min read

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Suncity Group’s Alvin Chau Loses Appeal of 18-Year Prison Sentence

On July 3, Macau's Court of Final Appeal reaffirmed an earlier verdict and rejected Alvin Chau's appeal, upholding his 18-year prison sentence

Macau’s Court of Final Appeal has upheld a prison sentence for former Suncity Group CEO Alvin Chau of 18 years, rejecting his appeal to shorten the term. This comes at the end of a closely watched case that has had major implications for Macau’s casino industry.

Macau Court Denies Appeals by Chau and Eight Other Defendants

The court confirmed on July 3 in an in-camera hearing the initial ruling handed down in January last year, which found Chau guilty of criminal association, illegal gambling, and money laundering, reported the Macau Daily Times. Eight other defendants connected to the same case also had their appeals denied, keeping their sentences between nine and 12-and-a-half years.

Chau was convicted of making illegal gains through money laundering and illegal gambling activities. The court found that he and his associates brought in HKD24.87 billion ($3.18 billion) from these activities, which must be returned to the Macau government as ill-gotten gains.

His legal saga began when he was arrested by Macau authorities in November 2021 on charges including leading a criminal syndicate and being involved in illicit gambling operations. After several months of trial at the Court of First Instance, Chau was found guilty on 103 out of 229 charges related to gambling. Some were dropped because they exceeded the statute of limitations while another 59 were added on top of them. Chau was acquitted on charges linked to money laundering.

Court Decision Reinforces Government’s Commitment to Crackdown on Junket Industry

The final sentence remained unchanged despite multiple appeals, including one for clemency addressed to Chinese President Xi Jinping where he portrayed himself as a pivotal figure who transformed Macau into a global tourism hub. The Court of Second Instance scrapped his fraud conviction but jacked up the amount that should be paid back by Chau.

Attempts by the prosecution to reinstate fraud charges against him and seek tougher penalties failed too. 

However, this decision cements the hard Macau government stance taken towards Chau and others involved. It further underscores the clampdown against the junket industry and the crackdown on illegal gambling operations being carried out within Macao SAR borders.

Chau’s fall from grace reflects wider crackdowns on capital flight facilitated via junket operators as well as money laundering by Mainland Chinese authorities. Following his detention, Suncity Group – formerly Asia’s largest junket operator – was exposed to significant risks arising out of these activities leading to its shutdown.The case has also triggered sweeping changes across Macau’s casino sector with stricter regulations being put in place coupled with increased oversight mechanisms.

Author

Silvia has dabbled in all sorts of writing – from content writing for social media to movie scripts. She has a Bachelor's in Screenwriting and experience in marketing and producing documentary films. With her background as a customer support agent within the gambling industry, she brings valuable insight to the Gambling News writers’ team.

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