BEIJING (AP) — Chinese authorities have issued an arrest warrant for the head of Macao’s biggest junket organizer over accusations that he helped run an illegal cross-border gambling syndicate.
Prosecutors in Wenzhou, in the eastern province of Zhejiang, said in a statement on Weibo on Friday that Suncity Group CEO Alvin Chau along with another individual, Zhang Ningning, led cross-border gambling operations and set up casinos across China.
Authorities said they had been investigating the case since July last year, and that the gambling syndicate has 199 shareholder representatives, over 12,000 agents that promoted its gambling operations and more than 80,000 gamblers in its network.
The syndicate also set up asset management firms to assist gamblers with cross-border fund transfers and to recover debts they owed.
Casinos and most forms of gambling are illegal in mainland China, and Macao is the only Chinese city allowed to operate a casino. Mainland visitors are able to travel to Macao to gamble but are required to obtain a visa.
In 2019, China’s state-owned news agency Xinhua accused Suncity of targeting mainland gamblers with online gambling and proxy-betting operations based in Cambodia and the Philippines. Suncity denied the allegations.
In the statement on Friday, authorities said the syndicate “severely damaged the social order of the country” and they urged Chau to turn himself in, in exchange for a more lenient punishment.
Hong Kong-listed Suncity Group could not be reached for comment by phone and did not immediately reply to email inquiries.