Suncity CEO Alvin Chau Warrant: World’s Biggest Junket Boss Faces China Arrest

Posted on: November 26, 2021, 09:27h. 

Last updated on: November 26, 2021, 04:14h.

The expected completion of a new casino resort in Manila by Suncity has been dealt a potentially serious blow. In addition to construction delays, an arrest warrant issued in China for the company’s boss.

Alvin Chau
Suncity Group boss Alvin Chau,  seen above, is now facing an arrest warrant in the Chinese city of Wenzhou. (Image: Macau Business)

Suncity boss Alvin Chau Cheok Wa is now a wanted man, according to messages that have started to appear from Chinese law enforcement.

The city of Wenzhou in the Zhejiang province has issued an arrest warrant for him. It accuses him and another individual, Zhang Ningning, of being involved in a cross-border gambling outfit that had allegedly established casino operations in mainland China.

Suncity was once primarily a junket company that had dubious ties to several casino operators, including Crown Resorts. That past may have caught up with it once again in China, as activities in Macau and the Philippines are now under fire.

Wanted Man

The government’s accusations are tied to virtually all of Chau’s operations, according to information provided by GGRAsia. Gambling is illegal in mainland China, as is the promotion of gambling. However, Chau allegedly ignored the law, according to the city.

The complaint states that Chau had “set up an asset management company within mainland China” to give gamblers access to gambling activity. He allegedly also provided assistance in “chasing gambling debts” and facilitating “cross-border transactions.”

Chau was a main figure in the group, according to the South China Morning Post.

It is said to have “199 shareholder-level representatives and more than 12,000 agents tasked with promoting gambling, and had developed a network of more than 80,000 Chinese gamblers.”

It isn’t clear from the reports if Chau plans on surrendering.

An investigation into Chau’s activity, as well as that of his partner, began in the middle of 2020. However, this isn’t the first time Chau has been implicated in wrongdoing by Chinese authorities. In 2019, Suncity was accused by state media of facilitating online gambling for Chinese nationals.

Chau vehemently denied the allegations and launched a PR scheme to garner support for his case. He made public appearances and videos, promising that the company was not engaged in any illegal activity. Chau added that the company would take additional measures to ensure that it was complying with the law.

Suncity’s Plans in the Philippines Could be Impacted

It’s too early to tell how the arrest warrant might alter the company’s plans in the Philippines. Its massive casino resort was already facing schedule changes, which could be shifted even more.

According to documents filed with the Philippine Securities Exchange yesterday, Suntrust Home Developers, a Suncity Group subsidiary, and Megawide have agreed to update their plans for the resort.

The two signed an extension to contracts initially signed at the end of last year to push the completion of construction until “no later than March 31, 2024.” The resort was previously expected to be completed sometime in late 2023. The amended documents explained that the change was made to give the companies “some flexibility,” although they didn’t specify where the flexibility was needed.

The original agreements addressed two phases of construction, Package 1 and Package 2. Package 1 targeted the initial groundbreaking and foundation construction of the property and carried a price tag of $44.94 million. Package 2 covers the substructure, superstructure and the remainder of the project. This segment was valued at $79.6 million.

Through the updated agreement, Suncity, which had once been in the running for an integrated resort in Japan, is to pay Megawide, a Philippines-based development and construction company, $13.85 million as part of Package 2. This, the amendment explains, is a provisional sum to cover “additional architectural, structural, and civil works” for the construction segment.

Suncity’s Big Plans for the Philippines

The new resort, located in Manila’s Entertainment City, is a huge undertaking. It is expected to offer 400 gaming tables and 1,200 slot machines in the casino, as well as a luxury hotel, dining, shopping, and other amenities. Suncity has stated previously that it wants the property to be the “coolest” and “trendiest” in the area.

Suncity had its eyes on the Philippines when it purchased a stake in Suntrust Home Developers in 2019. It later increased the stake and changed the company’s name to Suntrust Resort Holdings. The rebranding was designed to portray the company as hospitality-centric and more flexible in its offerings.

New changes, however, may be coming if the arrest warrant in China is answered by Chau.