Alvin Chau May Have Shorthanded Macau $1B Worth of Tax

The fall from grace of Alvin Chau, the prominent casino junket boss in Macau, whose Suncity Group was running an extensive business in the special administrative region and beyond, may have “cheated” the gambling industry in the hub out of $1 billion in tax revenue, Asia Nikkei reported.

Alvin Chau’s Syndicate Explained by Prosecutors

Chau was arrested in November 2021 on suspicion of ties to criminal syndicates and a litany of charges, including money laundering, illegal gambling, fraud, and more, leading to the junket operator debacle that prompted sweeping changes to Macau’s regulation and tightened the laws on how junkets may operate there significantly.

Now, a 224-page indictment seen by the media argues that Chau and 20 former Suncity C-level employees have been privy to a criminal conspiracy that damaged Macau’s budget to the tune of $1 billion. Insufficient taxes were paid in the period between 2013 and 2021, the indictment argues. In the indictment, investigators argue that Suncity Group and Suncity VIP Club were effectively a front for the group to secure illegal gambling profits.

But it’s not just the budget that suffers. According to the gaming regulator in Macau, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau or DICJ for its Portuguese acronym, Chau’s illegitimate activities cost the six casino concessionaires in Macau a total of HK$2.08 billion in gaming revenue, or $270 million.

The junket operator business was highly successful in attracting high-roller gamblers to various destinations across the region, including Macau.

However, authorities were aware that junkets weren’t entirely correct in the way they operated and China finally moved with a decision to use the arrest of Alvin Chau as the basis of a broader crackdown on gambling operations, effectuating a review of laws in Macau and cutting the access of citizens to gambling hubs.

Illegal Bets Operated out of Casino VIP Rooms

The Suncity Group debacle had reverberations that were felt well beyond Macau, with both Crown Resorts and Star Entertainment Group facing investigations and damning reports over their business ties with Chau’s business. Prosecutors now want to prove that Chau’s Suncity Group was operating illegal gambling businesses out of 200 VIP rooms located in Macau, including some of the main concessionaires there, as reported by Asia Nikkei.

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Prosecutors found evidence that there was an unspoken rule that anyone betting $1,500 on the table would effectively be betting another $3,000 under the table. The casino would then award or take from the VIP players depending on the outcome of the games. It also allowed Suncity Group to pocket fatter profits without divvying up the funds with anyone else.

Chau allegedly had to set up a number of companies to make sure that he could keep track of those under-the-table wagers. As to the people named ufa888 as co-defendants for the chief executive, they all allegedly knew about the fraudulent activities, but remained compliant and did not report the issues.

One executive, Cheong Chi Kin, was directly named for managing the cash flow “under-the-table,” Asia Nikkei wrote. Meanwhile, the criminal syndicate that was operated as part of the Suncity Group, organized illegal gambling online, which enabled mainlanders from China and Macau to bet remotely in Vietnam, the Philippines, and Cambodia. To make this work, Suncity Group had to use underground banks and front companies to mask its activities. China has been actively cracking down on hundreds of such websites and even the gamblers who participated, allowing the authorities to collect information about where the underground practices are coming from and piece together the puzzle.

Alvin Chau is innocent until proven guilty, but the mounting evidence against him is pretty damning.