Two Dozen Convicted of Macau Loansharking Head To Prison

Posted on: October 7, 2019, 09:22h. 

Last updated on: October 7, 2019, 11:59h.

Twenty-five suspects were sentenced to prison terms of four months to 16 years after being convicted in connection with a loansharking scheme targeting Macau gamblers, according to recent news reports. Several of the ring members were also banned from entering any Macau casino.

Macau authorities led away several suspects arrested in connection with a 2016 loansharking scheme. Defendants convicted of the same crime were recently sentenced to prison. (Image: Macau News)

The 46-year-old ringleader was given a prison term of 16 years. The Hong Kong man was also prohibited from entering any Macau gaming venue for 20 years, according to the Macao Daily News.

The report did not identify his name. But it said he was convicted of 32 counts of gaming-related usury, and leading or instructing organized crime.

GGRAsia further reported the 27 defendants were among 113 suspects identified by Macau police in 2016 as connected to the ring.

Some other key members of the ring were sentenced to between eight and 10 years, the report adds. They were also banned from entering Cotai casinos for anywhere between 10 and 20 years.

Among the charges on which they were convicted are participating in or supporting organized crime, gaming-related usury, operating illegal gambling businesses, and depriving others of their liberty, the Daily News reported.

Macau Police Crack Down on Loansharking

Earlier this year, police explained that a recent spike in gambling-related arrests is tied to Macau authorities cracking down on loansharking gangs that particularly target Chinese visitors.

During the first six months of 2019, Macau saw 295 cases of loansharking associated with gambling. The total for the first half of the year is 16.1 percent more than the first half of 2018, GGRAsia said.

Gambling-Related Macau Kidnapping Jumps

Also, Macau police said, there were 169 cases of alleged unlawful detention connected to gambling during the first six months of 2019. That amount is a 17.4 percent jump compared to the first half of last year.

In May, Macau officials announced there were 438 criminal cases related to the gaming industry during Q1. Kidnappings jumped by 34.4 percent, to 82 instances.

Most kidnappings were conducted by loansharking groups inside casinos. Most victims were tourists.

In some instances, gamblers who defaulted on their debts were dealt with by the gang’s “action team.” The ring would falsely imprison the gambler until he or she, or their relatives, could find a way to pay.

There were also murders. For instance, in May, Macau police revealed a Chinese man was found dead inside a guesthouse, the victim of a brutal beating at the hands of three loansharks. The victim had failed to pay his debt of $6,373.

In January, police said a 41-year-old man discovered deceased inside Sands’ Conrad Macau hotel was also the victim of a loansharking attack. A 27-year-old man was later charged with fatally stabbing the gambler.

Macau Security Secretary Wong Sio Chak announced in February that more than 3,000 people were apprehended last year on suspicion of loansharking or other financial fraud. Crimes involving fraud skyrocketed 31.3 percent, and loansharking 26.8 percent, he added.

Wong said most of the crimes took place in and around Macau casinos. Macau police deported 2,269 of the 3,050 suspected criminals and told those individuals not to return.

Last month, police further revealed how a law enforcement operation — involving authorities from Macau, Guangdong, and Hong Kong — led to the arrest of 812 people in Macau in less than two months for crimes related to foreign exchange, loansharking, and prostitution, Macau Business reported. Sixty nine of those detained were suspected of illegal lending, the report said.

Through the police special enforcement operation, 24,359 people needed to be identified, and 3,777 of them were referred to police for ID checks. Out of these, 917 potential suspects’ cases were reviewed by the local prosecutor.