Macau Police Arrest Junket Kingpin Levo Chan

January 31, 2022
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Macau’s stricken junket segment has suffered another major setback with the arrest in Macau of Levo Chan, chairman of the once-powerful Tak Chun junket and CEO of Fisherman’s Wharf operator Macau Legend Development.

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Macau’s stricken junket segment has suffered another major setback with the arrest in Macau of Levo Chan, chairman of the once-powerful Tak Chun junket and CEO of Fisherman’s Wharf operator Macau Legend Development.

The crippling of Macau’s once all-powerful junket sector advanced another step on Friday (January 28), with police linking the boss of Macau’s largest surviving junket to the criminal case against Alvin Chau, the Suncity junket mogul arrested in November.

Macau’s Judiciary Police said in a press conference on Sunday that two suspects were arrested on Friday in a “follow-up” operation on suspicion of illegal gambling, money laundering and participating in organised criminal activity in consort with Chau.

Macau Legend confirmed in a Hong Kong Stock Exchange filing on Sunday that CEO and co-chairman Levo Chan, 49, was arrested and remains in detention, while Hong Kong-listed Ying Hai Group Holdings confirmed that its chairman, Choi Wai Chan, 34, was arrested but released on bail.

On Monday, Macau Legend said in a filing that Chan had resigned as CEO, co-chairman and executive director, effective immediately.

The Chinese-language Macao Daily News also reported on Monday that Levo Chan was refused bail by a judge and is being held at the Coloane correctional facility.

Police spokesman Chong Kam Leong said the suspects did not cooperate with police and that officers raided their homes and offices, seizing computer equipment, documents and some HK$4.1m ($526,000) in cash.

The pro-government Macao Daily News noted that, like Suncity, Levo Chan’s Tak Chun junket has been implicated in a number of gambling indictments in mainland China in the last two years.

A late 2020 indictment in the Jiangsu Province city of Wuxi alleged that Tak Chun conspired to establish an online gambling presence there by broadcasting junket gaming operations at Tak Chun’s Manila VIP room to gamblers in China.

Two other cases in the cities of Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, and Xiamen, Fujian Province, also implicated Tak Chun, the report said, although police said that their probe began in 2019.

Macau Legend’s Sunday filing distanced the company from the arrest of its chairman, saying that it related to the “personal affairs of Mr Chan and [is] not related to the Group” and that company operations would not be affected.

However, Chan’s day-to-day control of, and leading shareholding in, the company spooked investors, who sent the stock down 30 percent in early trading on Monday. At 12pm the stock was down 19.3 percent at HK$0.46.

In an unsigned analysis, the Macao Daily Times said Chan’s arrest would have far less impact than the arrest of Alvin Chau given that junket operations have already been greatly curtailed through severance of casino agreements, and because pending amendments to Macau’s casino concession law tightly restrict future operations.

However, the arrest serves as a reminder to Macau, the regional gaming industry and a clutch of optimistic equity analysts that the Macau and Beijing governments have not finished with the VIP segment or investigating cross-border criminal activity.

Like Alvin Chau, Levo Chan has also been notable for diversifying business away from the VIP sector and has served as a member of the largely rubber stamp Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in mainland China.

But Chan’s major investment in non-gaming at Fisherman’s Wharf via a 33.2 percent stock purchase and his mainland political ties were not enough to protect him from state retribution.

Macau Legend’s shareholder line-up is also notable as a roll call of the old guard of Macau gaming heavyweights: former lawmakers David Chow and his wife Melinda Leong; the late Stanley Ho’s third de facto wife Ina Chan; and veteran gaming influencer Li Chi Keung.

Tak Chun was one of the survivors of a near-halving of the number of registered junket operators to 46, as reported by the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) last week. The regulator has yet to comment on the fate of Tak Chun’s licence in view of Levo Chan’s arrest.

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