Trial hears that Suncity helped gamblers elude cross-border capital controls

Some 21 defendants, including Alvin Chau Cheok Wa, are on trial for running illicit gambling.
Some 21 defendants, including Alvin Chau Cheok Wa, are on trial for running illicit gambling.

Former employees have testified on how the company evaded cross-border capital controls between Macau and mainland China.

Macau.- In a new day of hearings in the Suncity trial, two former employees of the now-defunct junket operator told the Court of First Instance that the company helped gamblers to send funds into and out of China to circumvent tight cross-border capital controls.

On Thursday (November 4), Leong Wai I and Leong Chi Hang told the trial that daily work involved facilitating money transfers for Chinese high rollers. They said that when gamblers needed funds, they called the exchange rate department to inquire about the daily exchange rate between RMB and Hong Kong dollars.

The department would select from a list a random person who had a bank account in mainland China and a Suncity currency account and would ask the person whether they were willing to help conduct a money transfer.

The witnesses told the inquiry the player would transfer funds to the person’s account in mainland China, and the currency exchange department would transfer the funds to the player’s account. The same process was reversed if funds needed to be moved from Macau to mainland China.

The list of Suncity clients was said to include more than 10 people and was updated regularly. One witness said that as many as 100 calls per day were received about such exchanges.

Alvin Chau’s personal assistants held shares in over 10 companies on behalf of Suncity

Also on Thursday, two former assistants of former Suncity CEO Alvin Chau Cheok Wa said they held shares in over 10 companies in China on behalf of Suncity. They said they did not understand the nature of the businesses and were not involved in Suncity’s day-to-day operations because their main job was to take care of Chau and his family’s needs, such as travel expenses. 

They said they acted at the request of another defendant in the case, Cheung Ling Ling, also known as Zhang Ningning. According to the indictment, Zhang Ningning was in charge of Suncity’s financial assets department and helped a criminal group headed by Chau Cheok Wa to manage funds from illegal activities.

Earlier this year, Zhang Ningning was sentenced to seven years in prison and a fine of MOP890,000(US$109,350) in a separate case in Wenzhou, Zhenjiang, for cross-border gambling.

The trial will continue on Monday.

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