Suncity trial – Court told how Wenzhou police assists Macau in probe

Monday’s hearing at the high-profile trial related to now-defunct junket operator Suncity Group put a focus on how mainland China police helped their counterpart in Macau build the case, as the defendants’ lawyers doubted it Mainland and Macau police have adopted the same standards in collecting evidence.

The Macau Court of First Instance is now hearing the case of Alvin Chau Cheok Wa, former Suncity boss, and 20 other defendants charged with illegal gambling activities, running a criminal syndicate, fraud and money laundering. Mr. Chau and six other defendants have been detained in Macau since late November 2021 after authorities in the east Chinese city of Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, issued an arrest warrant for the junket mogul in a separate case.

Between late November and December 2021, the Macau Judiciary Police (PJ) dispatched a number of investigators to Wenzhou to collect evidence, according to information presented to the Macau court on Monday. With the support of Wenzhou Police, PJ investigators were successful in approaching nine defendants and two witnesses in the Wenzhou case.

Wenzhou police also provided written records of phone messages between Mr. Chau and Zhang Ningning from 2010 to 2020, which were taken from Ms. Zhang’s cellphone that they confiscated, the court heard. Records and data from 12 mobile phones used by the mainland underground bank – which are said to have helped facilitate cross-border fund transfers for Suncity’s customers – have also been made available by Wenzhou police.

Ms. Zhang, also known as Cheung Ling Ling, is the ninth defendant in the Macau case and is set to head Suncity’s asset management division. She was sentenced to seven years in prison along with 36 people in the separate Suncity-affiliated trial for illegal cross-border gambling activities in Wenzhou earlier this year. Mr. Chau was not among the 36 defendants in Wenzhou, and the mainland court has not yet announced the progress or outcome of the trial against the mogul.

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Outside the Macau lower court, attorney Leong Hon Man, representing Mr Chau, asked all four PJ officers who testified Monday whether they understood that mainland police use the same standards as Macau police when collecting and compiling electronic and written evidence.

Specifically, the attorney also asked whether PJ found the same conversations between Mr. Chau and Ms. Zhang on the former’s cell phones that the mainland police found on the latter’s.

But none of the witnesses gave an affirmative answer. “I believe you [the mainland police] collected evidence in accordance with the law,” said one of the PJ witnesses, Leong Teng Hei.

Regarding Suncity’s involvement in facilitating cross-border money transfers to circumvent mainland capital controls, another PJ investigator, Vat Chi Meng, said on Monday that mainland police had asked one of the mainland players to demonstrate how he’s moving money across the mainland border to his cash account at Suncity in Macau.

The player contacted his agent in Suncity and received instructions to deposit funds into a mainland bank account before his Suncity cash account was then successfully funded with the same amount, the PY official said.

Separately, the Macau Court was previously told that between 2013 and 2021, up to 62,588 multiplier bets were made in 229 VIP rooms and gaming areas of Macau casinos, totaling 823.77 billion MOP. Multiplier bets, or also known as side bets or under-table bets, means a bet officially denominated at a casino gaming table that is a fraction of the amount of a private bet made between players and junkets to avoid gaming revenue levies .

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Ms. Chau responded briefly to this allegation on Monday, complaining that it was based on just two files that had been confiscated from Suncity’s servers. He questioned that police were unable to find the details of all of those bets, only a small fraction of those bets on his cellphones and other defendants’ devices to back up this claim.

The trial will continue on Tuesday.