West News Wire: Alvin Chau, the former “junket king” of Macau’s casinos, has been given an 18-year prison term for running an illegal gambling operation, bringing to a conclusion a criminal trial that stunned the casino city and resulted in the downfall of one of its most prominent gaming magnates.

The 48-year-old founder of Suncity Group, Chau, invented the junket sector that attracted high rollers from the gambling-illegal mainland of China to Macau, the only region in the nation where casinos are permitted to operate. Rich mainland gamblers were given credit by the junket operators, who then collected their debts on behalf of the casinos.

Prosecutors had charged Chau with 289 counts of fraud, money laundering and illegal gambling.

Judge Lou Ieng Ha on Wednesday found Chau guilty of fraud, running a criminal syndicate and operating illegal bets, but acquitted him on the money laundering charge.

Suncity under Chau’s leadership had “conducted illegal gambling for unlawful gains for a long time”, the judge said in her ruling.

The trial, which began in September, centred on alleged under-the-table bets worth 824 billion Hong Kong dollars ($105bn) over eight years, which defrauded Macau of tax revenue exceeding 1 billion Hong Kong dollars ($128m).

Chau’s legal woes began in November 2021 when authorities in the mainland city of Wenzhou issued a warrant for his arrest for running an illegal gambling syndicate. Macau authorities then arrested him and other senior company executives two days later but chose to charge them locally, citing a concurrent investigation based in the city.

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