Junket figure accused of money laundering

HONG KONG - A Macau junket figure, who has been the focus of a lengthy police investigation, has been accused of laundering HK$1.8 billion (S$312 million) through bank accounts in Hong Kong, according to court documents released this week.

Cheung Chi-tai, a former major shareholder in one of Macau's biggest junket operators, the Neptune Group, is facing three separate charges of money laundering. Last November, Hong Kong police launched a money-laundering investigation related to Cheung and froze his assets.

Macau's junket operators and high roller VIP industry have come under greater scrutiny from the authorities due to a campaign by China's President Xi Jinping to crack down on corruption and illicit transactions. Gambling revenue in Macau has plummeted in the past year. The junket business, which relies on middlemen to bring in gamblers from mainland China, extending them credit and collecting debts from them, has taken an extra beating.

Cheung, 54, has been charged with dealing with property known or believed to represent proceeds of an indictable offence, according to a charge sheet seen by Reuters. A Neptune spokesman said he was not a shareholder and had no link to the company.

Cheung was identified in a 1992 US Senate committee investigation as a top lieutenant of the Wo Hop To triad group. While he has not been convicted of any triad-related crimes, his organised crime affiliation was corroborated by the US authorities and former and current police officials.

Cheung's case has been adjourned to Sept 24.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 27, 2015, with the headline 'Junket figure accused of money laundering'. Print Edition | Subscribe