“President Xi, you are the greatest president in our country’s history and our spiritual leader,” he wrote. “I hope you can speak up for the innocent families. We just need a fair and normal verdict.”

Chau has appealed to Chinese President Xi Jinping. Photo: AP

Suncity Group was previously considered the largest junket operator in Macau, acting as a go-between who brought in high rollers on paid trips to casinos, extending them credit and collecting their debts.

The other 12 defendants, many of whom worked for the company, were handed jail terms of up to 15 years for handling almost HK$824 billion in illegal bets and making unlawful gains of HK$21.5 billion from under-the-table wagers between 2013 and 2021.

In the letter, the tycoon claimed the incident had resulted in “no victims, no property loss, no deaths or injuries and no corruption”.

“We always believed that Macau is governed by law and were never worried that we would be jailed by association without committing a crime,” Chau said. “Those involved in the case and their loved ones are in distress.

“Usually, casino-related crimes are non-violent and face a jail term of a few years, why is this sentence so harsh? Can our country, governed by law, protect our people? Why are they facing such treatment?”

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Chau also touched on his childhood in the former Portuguese colony and thanked the central government for contributing to Macau’s development.

The tycoon said he had built his business from scratch and claimed he had never misappropriated funds or received any money or gifts from clients.

He also contested the charges of triad associations, unlicensed gambling and setting up VIP rooms for high rollers.

“I am really overwhelmed by the situation, and I only hope to salvage the disaster that has happened to all of us, so I make this plea in an audacious manner,” he wrote. “I hope you can understand my position.”

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Chau wrapped up the letter by calling on the public to testify whether the contents of his words aligned with the facts.

“Regardless of how fate ultimately unfolds, I will unquestionably follow the will of our nation and people, unite the hearts of the people, and share with the party in honour and disgrace, destiny and fate, life and death,” he added.

Like many magnates and tycoons, details of Chau’s personal life often made headlines in tabloids, especially his extramarital affairs with model and actress Mandy Lieu, with whom he had four children. The couple broke up in 2019.