Suncity Group may have tripped over itself. The junket operator, and backer of a multimillion-dollar resort project in the Philippines, is reportedly under investigation by the Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) after allegedly receiving complaints from some of Suncity’s customers that they haven’t been able to withdraw their funds. While delays and technical glitches can occur, Suncity may have inadvertently admitted to not properly protecting the money.
Suncity Group Under Investigation
It’s too early to start using terms like embezzlement and misappropriation, but they might turn up in later conversations. According to the Philippines Daily Inquirer, PAGCOR has started to receive calls from Suncity customers that they haven’t been able to withdraw deposited funds collected by the operator. As a result, the gaming regulator has been forced to launch an investigation to get to the bottom of the story, with PAGCOR Chair and CEO Andrea Domingo telling the news outlet, “The Pagcor group has approved the creation of an investigative committee headed by the legal department’s assistant vice president [Arnold] Salvosa.”
There have been rumors tied to the complaints that, perhaps, Suncity is using the money elsewhere. While it normally wouldn’t be fair to judge based on rumors, the company may have confirmed them, willingly or not. While PAGCOR hasn’t found any evidence yet through its investigation, Suncity director Alvin Chau Cheok Wa was quoted by the media outlet in a previous story as saying that “there really is difficulty in releasing the entirety of the placements at once” because of the company’s financial situation. That statement would seem to indicate that the deposits were, in fact, used for the company’s operations and not held separately.
Suncity Pushing Forward with Manila Resort Project
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the company’s bottom line, Suncity is determined to see a new resort project come to life in Westside City in Manila’s Entertainment City zone. That project is being developed by Suntrust Home Developers, which expects the main hotel casino portion to be able to launch sometime in 2023. Suntrust added that it was able to avoid much of the damage caused by COVID-19 because the project was in the “preliminary construction phase” and, as a result, didn’t suffer any major setbacks.
However, it still took a loss. According to the company’s quarterly report from yesterday, Suntrust saw a net loss of $13 million for the first six months of the year after having reported a net loss of $731,441 (PHP36.97 million) for the same period last year. The casino hotel portion of the Westside City project reportedly costs $1 billion. Suntrust asserted in its report, “The group does not anticipate having any cash flow or liquidity problems… The group has material commitments for capital expenditures amounting to PHP25.83 billion (almost $516 million) as of June 30, 2021 in relation to the construction of the main hotel casino.”
The link between Suncity and Suntrust isn’t straightforward, but it still exists. Suncity Group Holdings Ltd., a company traded on the Hong Kong bourse, owns 51% of Suntrust and is also led by Suncity Group’s Chau.