The trial of former Chinese Communist Party official Bo Xilai (pictured near right) got underway this week, and the unprecedented live coverage of the proceedings via official state social media channels led many observers to dismiss the trial as political theater. Bo, the former Party boss in Chongqing, had been tipped as a potential successor to current General Secretary Xi Jinping before Bo’s wife was convicted in August 2012 of the 2011 murder of British businessman Neil Heywood. Bo himself is facing charges of bribery, corruption and other conduct unbecoming a top Party official.
Bo’s arrest last year was subsequently linked to the detention last December of several junket operators on the Chinese mainland as well as in Macau, which The Times of London reported as related to the activities of a “former senior Chinese official.” Bo was also alleged to have financial links with individuals associated with the Hong Kong-listed mega-junket Neptune Group. Bo has, at least according to the official Weibo channels, mounted a vigorous defense against his accusers, but a guilty verdict is widely viewed as a foregone conclusion.
CHINA CRACKS THE WHIP ON ILLEGAL GAMBLING
While Bo hogs the Chinese legal spotlight, dozens of individuals were sentenced on Thursday for their involvement in an illegal gambling operation in China’s eastern Zhejiang province. Chen Guangjia, the former CFO of Guangzhou Jinyi Animation Technology Co. Ltd., was fined RMB 3m (US $486k) and sentenced to eight years in prison for furnishing Wenling City amusement arcades with illegal gambling machines in an operation that Xinhua claimed earned profits of RMB 50m. Another 44 members of the ring were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 14 to 90 months and fined up to RMB 2m, while 32 co-accused individuals were allowed to skate.
In Hong Kong, a husband and wife team were arrested on Wednesday for operating a chain of illegal mahjong parlors. The arrests were the result of an eight-month investigation that led police to conclude the couple had earned HKD 10m ($1.3m) via their illegal activities. The South China Morning Post reported that the 44-year-old husband was suspected of belonging to the Sun Yee On triad.
CANADA ORDERS ‘BROKEN TOOTH’ RIVAL DEPORTED
Another alleged triad member, Lai Tong Sang aka Dragon Head Lai (pictured above far right), has been ordered deported from Canada. Lai arrived in Canada 17 years ago, but Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board claims Lai wasn’t forthcoming about his history as leader of Macau’s Shui Fong aka Wo On Lok triad. Lai participated in his admissibility hearing in February by phone from Macau, and his current whereabouts are unknown. Lai’s lawyer says his client intends to appeal the deportation order, which was issued last week but only publicly revealed on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Lai’s wife and three kids will be permitted to stay in Canada.
Lai has been accused of involvement in the open warfare that took place between triads in Macau prior to Portugal handing the territory back to China at the turn of the millennium. Lai’s admissibility hearing featured Canadian police testifying that their wiretaps had overheard Lai discussing the progress of Macau’s triad war. In 1997, Lai’s home in Vancouver was sprayed with bullets, a botched hit that wiretaps revealed had been ordered by Wan Kuok Koi aka Broken Tooth Koi, the 14k triad leader who was released from Macau’s Coloane prison late last year after serving nearly 15 years for triad activities. Koi has announced he plans to resume his VIP gaming activities in Macau.