THE arrest and detainment of Chau Cheok Wa and the allegations surrounding Summit Ascent Holdings Ltd.’s (SA Holdings) integrated resort in Russia will not affect the operations of Suncity Group Holdings, Ltd. and SA Holdings, its listed Philippine unit said on Wednesday. Mr. Chau sits as chairman of the board in both Suncity Group and SA Holdings. 

Suncity Group is the parent firm of Fortune Noble Ltd., which holds a 51% stake in Philippine listed firm Suntrust Home Developers, Inc.

In a disclosure to the exchange on Wednesday, Suntrust said Suncity Group and SA Holdings issued separate disclosures on the Hong Kong Exchange clarifying that the developments will not impact the operations of both firms.

“As the group is operated by a team of management personnel, the Suncity Board does not expect the incident to have a material adverse impact on the daily operations of the group, and as of the date of the announcement, there is no material disruption to the group’s businesses,” the disclosure said. 

The statement was echoed by SA Holdings, saying that the developments do “not have any direct material adverse impact on the financial position, business or operation of SA Holdings, and as of the date of this announcement, there is no material disruption to SA Holdings’ businesses.”

Suncity Group noted the news coverage regarding the arrest of its chairman, Mr. Chau, over allegations of illegal cross-border gambling activities and his arrest by the People’s Procuratorate of Wenzhou City and his arrest and detainment by the Macau Judicial Police over his suspected involvement in illegal gaming and money laundering.

Reuters reported that Macau authorities accused Mr. Chau, along with 10 others, of using Macau as a base for an illegal “live web betting platform” in the Philippines that attracted mainland Chinese.

Mr. Chau was arrested on Sunday and sources told Reuters that Suncity Group has since closed all of its VIP gaming rooms in Macau.

Meanwhile, reports also covered that integrated resort Tigre de Cristal was involved “in cross-border gambling activities by sending officers to solicit for customers in the People’s Republic of China for its gaming operations.”

Tigre de Cristal is located in the Primyore Region in the Russian Federation. SA Holdings holds 77.5% of the controlling interest in the integrated resort.

“The SA Holdings Board clarified that the allegation with respect to the involvement of Tigre de Cristal in cross-border gambling activities is untrue,” Suntrust said.

“Further, as a non-executive director of SA Holdings, Mr. Chau does not take part in carrying out day-to-day management and operations of SA Holdings,” it added.

Meanwhile, the Suncity board clarified that the events might affect only Sun City Gaming Promotion Co. Ltd., which is a firm wholly owned by Mr. Chau. Sun City Gaming is at the risk of “being unable to supply accommodation products to Suncity and its subsidiaries” and losing financial support of Mr. Chau.

The board of directors of Suncity Group and SA Holdings “have been conducting, and will continue to conduct, their businesses in accordance with the applicable laws and regulations of their respective places of operation.”

“Both Suncity Board and SA Holdings Board were informed by Mr. Chau of his intention to resign from the posts of chairman of the board and executive director of the Suncity [Group] and from the posts of the chairman of the board and a non-executive director of SA Holdings,” Suntrust said.

BusinessWorld reached out to Suntrust for further comment. It has yet to respond as of press time. Shares of Suntrust at the local bourse dropped 8.13% or 10 centavos on Wednesday, closing at P1.13 each. — Keren Concepcion G. Valmonte