Crime Figure ‘Mr. Chinatown’ Hit with $54M Tax Bill in Australia

Posted on: December 12, 2023, 07:35h. 

Last updated on: December 15, 2023, 10:21h.

An alleged Aussie crime boss currently languishing in a Chinese prison has a monster tax bill waiting for him on his release, The Herald Sun reports.

Tom Zhou, Mr Chinatown, Crown Resorts
A rare photograph of Tom Zhou, aka “Mr. Chinatown,” who built a multimillion-dollar junket business through his relationship with Crown Resorts. (Image: Herald Sun)

Tom “Mr. Chinatown” Zhou was a Crown Casino Melbourne junket partner whom Australian authorities have linked to money laundering, foreign influence operations, extortion, and drug and human trafficking.

Zhou was arrested in Fiji in 2020 and deported to China, the country of his birth, to fulfill a longstanding Interpol “red notice” arrest warrant. He’s been imprisoned for “economic crimes” in China, although the length of his sentence is unknown.

While in Australia, he built up a multimillion-dollar gambling empire. This was on the back of his dealings with Crown, which saw him jet in a steady stream of ultra-high rollers from mainland China.

Junket Empire

In 2016, federal agents raided a Crown Resorts VIP private jet as part of a money laundering probe. They were surprised to find Ming Chai on board, a client of Zhou’s and the nephew of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

While Zhou was raking it in, he failed to share this news with the Australian Tax Office (ATO). The ATO determined his income for 2012 and 2013 was AU$45.4 million (US$30 million). But he only declared income of AU$14K (US$9K) to the taxman.

The ATO also claims that Zhou’s wife made more than AU$62.5 million (US$41 million) between 2008 and 2014, while declaring income of around AU$370K (US$410K).

Bogus Loans

Before his arrest, Zhou told the ATO that his extra income was generated by loans from two companies he controlled tied to the Wuhan market in China. These were flush after recently selling seafood businesses, he claimed, according to The Herald Sun. The ATO, however, determined the loans were a sham.

Zhou does indeed have links to the Wuhan market. He was accused of ordering his driver to attack a business rival at the market with sulfuric acid, according to Hong Kong court documents. The attack left the victim permanently scarred and too frightened to give evidence.

In August, the Federal Court of Australia froze $30 million in Melbourne property assets owned by Zhou’s family, preventing them from being sold.

Zhou’s name cropped up regularly in a months-long public inquiry into Crown’s dealing with triad-linked junket operators that ended with the revocation of its Sydney gaming license. This hastened the takeover of the company by U.S. private equity giant Blackstone.