Posted on: August 5, 2022, 12:00h.
Last updated on: August 5, 2022, 12:00h.
Tak Chun Group’s former boss Levo Chan has been formally charged with numerous crimes in Macau, including operating an illegal gambling syndicate.
The since-defunct Tak Chun Group was once considered one of Macau’s largest junket operators. A subsidiary of Macau Legend Development, which owns Fisherman’s Wharf near the Macau Ferry Terminal, Tak Chun for years catered to wealthy mainland Chinese residents who sought gambling trips to Macau.
Last year, the Macau government, at the direction of China President Xi Jinping, initiated an industry assault on junket groups that facilitate travel to the casino enclave. The region’s two largest junket organizers — Suncity Group and Tak Chun Group — were at the top of the scrutiny list.
The crackdown resulted in most casinos terminating their junket relationships. The arrangements had provided commissions to junket organizers in exchange for bringing the private VIP gaming rooms high rollers from the mainland and elsewhere throughout South Asia.
Alvin Chau, the founder and former CEO of Suncity, has sat in a Macau prison since November 2021. Chan has been in custody since his January 2022 arrest.
Both former junket kingpins are facing considerable time in prison should they be found guilty of facilitating cross-border gambling. China prohibits most forms of gambling and outlaws gambling advertising on the mainland.
Though Suncity and Tak Chun claimed to operate independently of one another, law enforcement in Macau has raised claims that the two junkets were more intertwined than previously thought.
The Macau Public Prosecution’s Office this week charged Chan with operating a criminal organization, conducting unlawful gambling, and money laundering. If convicted on all counts, Chan could face 20 years in prison. Chau is facing similar charges and a similar prison term.
Even though our two operations were targeted at two different groups, according to our investigation, there is sufficient evidence that shows the two groups together participated in illicit and criminal activities,” Macau Judiciary Police spokesperson Chong Leong said.
Macau law enforcement officials allege that Suncity and Tak Chun played a substantial role in the local government’s belief that junkets organized the unlawful gambling of at least HK$800 billion (US$102 billion) since 2007.
Chan has denied wrongdoing. Macau police say he’s been uncooperative.
Chau’s trial is set to begin in September. Prosecutors haven’t yet provided a trial timeline for Chan.
Tak Chun Closes
Though he maintains his innocence, Chan soon after his January arrest resigned from Tak Chun. Macau Legend Development subsequently announced that its casino partnership with SJM Resorts — the oldest casino operator in Macau — had been dissolved.
SJM severing ties with Tak Chun was essentially the junket group’s end. Macau Legend has since replaced Chan as its co-chair, executive director, and CEO. However, the company says he remains its largest shareholder, but has “no claim whatsoever against the Group, whether by way of compensation, remuneration, severance, expenses, or otherwise.”
The junket model has largely been done away with in Macau, as the region readies to embark on its next gaming regulatory environment. The enclave is preparing to issue each of the six licensed commercial gaming companies new 10-year operating permits. Their current concessions expire at the end of 2022.