China: Macau’s dirty money in the sights of central authorities

The new “king of paris” of the special administrative region of Macao (China), Alvin Chau, CEO and majority shareholder of the leisure travel operator Suncity, was remanded in custody on Monday, November 29, along with four of his associates, after more than fourteen hours of questioning which, according to the local press, resulted in a confession. The prices of the six Macau casino operators, listed in Hong Kong (Wynn, SJM, Sands, MGM, Melco and Galaxy), fell 5 to 10% on the day, taking nearly 5 billion dollars (4.4 billion dollars). euros).

The detainees are accused of organizing online betting from platforms based abroad – notably in the Philippines – accessible to players from mainland China (the rest of Chinese territory), where gambling is prohibited . In this way, they would have facilitated money laundering operations. “The group used the bank accounts of Macau companies to move funds through [des] underground networks », Indicates the document published by the Attorney General of Macao.

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Police spokesman Chong Kam Leong clarified that Macau police have been investigating Suncity’s illegal activities since August 2019. Alvin Chau had already been banned from staying in Australia since 2019, where authorities suspected him. “Large-scale money laundering activities”, according to a 2017 Hong Kong Jockey Club report. These arrests took place less than 24 hours after an arrest warrant issued against Alvin Chau by judicial authorities in Wenzhou City, Zhejiang Province, over 1,000 kilometers northwest of Macau, mainland China.

Wenzhou police accuse him of “Lead a criminal organization, with 12,000 agents whose mission was to promote gambling”, who “Causes serious damage to the social order of the country”. The union is said to have recruited 80,000 punters in China. The coincidence between the arrest warrant issued by China and the police strike in Macao suggests that the decision to act in the special administrative region may have been taken in China.

Grim reputation

The episode therefore seems to confirm the impatience of the Chinese central authorities to eradicate from their tiny region the laundering of dirty money from China through gambling, specifically targeting “junkets”, agents who serve. intermediaries between the big players and the casinos and whose links with the triads are known. The “junkets” identify and canvass these customers in mainland China and then take care of everything for them: their trip to Macao, by private jet or helicopter if necessary, their luxury hotel, and access to the tables. most exclusive game.

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China: Macau’s dirty money in the sights of central authorities

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