UPDATED – Police arrest two in illegal gambling crackdown, Tak Chun boss Levo Chan among detained – Reports

The Judiciary Police (PJ) announced today (Sunday) two people in the junket sector were arrested on Friday for alleged crimes of engaging in illegal gambling activities, running a crime syndicate and money laundering. The authorities did not identify the two suspects, only referring to them as two Macau male residents – one surnamed Chan and aged 49, and one surnamed Choi and aged 34.

However Macau and Hong Kong media outlets cite sources saying Tak Chun chairman and executive director Levo Chan, one of the city’s top junkets, is among the detained.

Chan is also the co-chairman and CEO of Macau Legend Development Ltd, which runs the gaming-cum-hotel complex Macau Fisherman’s Wharf.

The other suspect is said to be Choi Wai Chan, chairman of Hong Kong-listed travel agency Ying Hai Group Holdings. According to the listing prospectus of Yin Hai in 2019, Choi’s wife was a director at Tak Chun, while Leong Tat Meng, executive director of Ying Hai, had worked in Tak Chun before.

Chong Kam Leong, the PJ spokesperson, said today these two suspects were related to the case, in which Alvin Chau Cheok Wa — the boss of another junket operator Suncity Group — and 10 other suspects were arrested in late November for similar alleged crimes.

The syndicate “controlled and run by the suspect surnamed Chan” was “involved in the activities of illegal online gambling and under-the-table betting” while Choi provided assistance to Chan, the PJ spokesperson said, adding the under-the-table betting activities took place in Macau casinos. 

“After thorough analysis and investigations, the PJ has decided it is the right time to take action in the afternoon of 28 January 2022, and [the police] successfully intercepted the two suspects in a hotel in the NAPE area,” Chong said. 

The residences of the two suspects located in Cotai and their office in the NAPE area were also raided, and a large number of files, documents, gadgets, servers and cash in a total of about HK$4.1 million were seized, the PJ said. 

The two suspects, who have refused to cooperate with the police, are now transferred to the Public Prosecutions Office, which will decide whether the suspects will be placed in pre-trial detention, the police added. 

The police operation on Friday was “the follow-up” to the arrest of Suncity boss Alvin Chau and 10 other suspects in late November, Chong said today. 

“Although these two police operations [taken place respectively in late November and Friday] target two different crime syndicates, there is sufficient evidence, according to our investigation, to show that these [two] crime syndicates have jointly engaged in the alleged crimes of this case,” he explained, adding the start of the investigation could date back to 2019.

But the PJ spokesperson declined to provide further details of the case, including the links between the two syndicates, whether more junket operators and representatives are under investigation, and others. 

Asked whether the police would cooperate with the local gaming regulator to take action on Tak Chun, Chong said today: “We’ve carried out investigations targeting crime syndicates but not any specific junkets.”

Levo Chan is the Chairman and Executive Director of Tak Chun Group and Co-Chairman, Executive Director and CEO of Macau Legend Development

The local junket segment has been embroiled in turmoil since the high-profile arrest of Alvin Chau, who has been placed in the pre-trial detention since  late November.

Suncity Group, which gaming analysts says was the city’s largest junket operator, has closed down all its junket business in the city since December, while Tak Chun, believed to be the city’s second-largest junket operator, has announced some of its VIP rooms in the city have been closed as some casinos have ceased their partnership.

Data provided by the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) in late January show only 46 junket operators — or known as gaming promoters in official terms — were licensed to operate in Macau this year, down from 85 in 2021. Tak Chun was still able to obtain a license in 2022.

The number of licensed junket operators has been in a steady decline since 2013, when there were 235 operators.