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Macau Junket Boss Jailed 14 Years for Illegal Gambling & Money LaunderingAfter months of legal proceedings, Macau judges have smacked Levo Chan Weng Lin, an infamous junket boss with a 14-year jail term. Four more of Chan’s associates were also handed notable jail terms, with all the guilty defendants receiving hefty fines.
On Friday, April 21, Macau’s second-largest Junket operator, Levo Chan Weng Li, was slapped with a 14-year prison sentence for his role in running an illegal gambling ring worth billions of dollars. Chan is the founder, chairman, and controlling shareholder of the Tak Chun Group, which purchased high rollers from mainland China to Macau – the only Chinese jurisdiction where gambling is allowed.
Chan also served as the co-chairman and CEO of Macau Legend Development, a renowned investment holdings company for the thriving resorts and casinos scene in the gambling mecca Macau.
This arrest coincides with President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign, which has seen a lot of similar high-profile arrests occur within Chinese jurisdictions. Specifically, the government crackdown targets officials who use Macau as their spending haven to bet and launder the money they have stolen from public coffers.
A 34-Charge Conviction for an Infamous Junket Boss
Following four months of deliberation, a panel of Judges in Macau, China’s Special Administrative Region (SAR), convicted Chan on 34 criminal charges. Some of the criminal charges brought upon him included illegal gambling in a licensed area, seven counts of substantial fraud, illegal gambling, and aggravated money laundering.
For the above crimes, Chan’s sentence came to a staggering cumulative total of 82.5 years. However, due to the application of local Macau laws on combined punishment time for several offenses committed, the trial judge settled for a final sentence of 14 years in prison. The court was informed that Chan’s illegalities amounted to US$4.5 billion (MOP$36.34 billion), with the Tycoon pocketing an estimated US$200 million (MOP$1.615 billion) from these activities.
The presiding Judges examined myriads of evidence fronted to the court, mainly including testimonies from Tak Chun employees. This evidence was enough to convince the judges’ panel that Tak Chun had engaged in under-the-table betting activities in Macau VIP rooms. The judgment delivered by the presiding judge read in part:Quote
“Computer evidence showed that Tak Chun recorded the activities of the betting under the table companies at Tak Chun and that they promoted betting under the table games to their customers…Some of the persons from the betting under the table companies were present at the Tak Chun Group (VIP Lounge), conducted betting under the table for players, and recorded information on these activities.”
Further, the court established that the Tak Chun Group had close connections to telephone betting companies that aided it in committing the offense of internet gambling. The court also found that the Tak Chun group was used to disguise ill-gotten wealth, and some of these proceeds were directly wired to Chan’s personal bank accounts.
On top of that, the Chinese SAR court also convicted Chan of a triad offense as he created and headed a criminal syndicate that facilitated illegalities like telephone betting and illegal gambling.
Other Casualties and Complainants in the Case
The Chan case involved eight other defendants, all of whom faced similar daunting charges. They were Wong Pui Keng, Cheong Sao Pek, Chan Kam Chi, Lio Weng Hang, Lee Tat Chuen, Choi Wan Chan, Li Manxing, and Tan GuiChan. Half of them, Chan Kam Chi, Choi Wan Chan, Li Manxing, and Tan GuiChan, were acquitted of all the charges, but the other half were not as lucky. Thus, Wong Pui Keng and Cheong Sao Pek were handed 10 years in prison each, whereas Lio Weng Hang and Lee Tat Chuen received a sentencing of 11 years and 7 years imprisonment, respectively.
In addition to the hefty jail terms, the defendants found guilty were ordered to pay the Macau government a cumulative fine of MOP$570 million (US $70.5 million) as compensation for their financial crimes. The massive fine was derived from the collective count of the crimes perpetrated by Chan and Co.
Moreover, four concessionaires that previously were in business with Chan, unbeknownst to his ways, also sought financial compensation for the apparent losses they received as a consequence of dealing with Chan. These included MGM China, Sands China, SJM, and Wynn Macau. The four entities asked the court for a combined figure amounting to MOP$130M (US$16.1M), with Wynn claiming the lion’s share of the compensation at MOP$48.25M (US$6.0 M). Further, Sands sued for MOP$46.99M (US$5.8M), followed by SJM’s MOP$35.65M (US$4.4 M), and finally, MGM demanded MOP$3.83M (US$474,000).
Macau Going Hard on Casino-related Crimes
The sentencing of Chan comes hot on the heels of a similar sentencing of former junket top dog Alvin Chau. Mr. Junket King, as Chau had come to be known, was handed a heavier 18-year-old prison sentence for various charges like fraud, operation of a criminal syndicate, and the facilitation of illegal wagers.
Besides going strong against illicit junket operations, Macau officials are also introducing new regulations for the gambling industry. The new gambling sector statutes will mark a significant shift from what the masses have been accustomed to, to a more modern feel of the Macau gaming industry.
Subject to further oversight operations by the government, the powers that be in Macau also renewed concessions for six major casinos operating in the region. While being the world’s largest gaming hub, the Macau government has long explored the possibility of diversifying the City’s economy. Speaking to lawmakers just before the Chan decision was made, Macau’s leader Ho Lat Seng said that the government aimed at maintaining the gambling market’s share at 40% while diversifying the rest of the industry.
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