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MACAU: Nearly a dozen arrested in crackdown against illegal gambling and laundering operation

By Dan Byrne for AMLi

A FLURRY OF ARRESTS has taken place in Macau in the past several days as police attempt to close in on a money laundering syndicate specialising in illegal gambling.  

Eleven people were taken into custody, and there is reason to believe that one of them is the founder of the city’s biggest junket operator.  

At a police conference in Macau Sunday, authorities said those arrested were suspected of running illegal online gambling websites and telemarketing activities in mainland China.  

They did not give the full names of any of those detained, but they did note that one of the individuals was a 47-year-old Macau businessman with the surname Chau.  

Although not confirmed, there is a possibility that this is Alvin Chau, the founder of Suncity, the largest operator of junket services in the Macau Special Administrative Region.  

Junket services are set up to entice high-rollers to a given casino to gamble. They are frequently a target for anti-money laundering authorities due to their exposure to organised crime, particularly in Asia and the Pacific.  

Chau – suspected of spearheading this operation in Hong Kong – had separately presented himself at a Macau police station for questioning Saturday morning after n arrested warrant was issued on the mainland, Reuters reported.  

At the heart of the investigation is Suncity’s operations there because while gambling is very much legal in the Macau Special Administrative Region, it is not across the border.  

Suncity and Chau are accused of forming a network of junket agents on the mainland that would help citizens access gambling services.  

Wenzhou police have said that in July 2020, this operation likely involved just under 200 agents who owned shares in the venture, around 12,000 gambling agents, and over 80,000 punter members.  

“The amount of money involved was exceptionally large, seriously damaging our country’s social management order,” the region’s Security Bureau said in an online post last week.  

“The security authorities urges (Chau) to surrender himself as soon as possible, in order to get a lenient treatment.” 

Following Chau’s arrest announcement, neither he nor Suncity responded to press requests for comment. 

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