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Canadian arrested in Macau for US$284m fraud attempt

[HONG KONG] A Canadian man has been arrested in the gambling hub of Macau for allegedly trying to defraud an entertainment company out of US$284 million, the police said on Monday.

The suspect, a 61-year-old retiree of Chinese descent, was arrested on Friday after allegedly trying to transfer the money from the firm's bank account using bogus documents earlier in the week.

In an emailed statement, Macau's Judiciary Police told AFP the man, surnamed Liao, tried to use a "fake authorisation document and transfer slip to try to defraud the entertainment company and the bank".

The police did not identify the company or the bank involved.

The arrest comes as Beijing and Ottawa are locked in a diplomatic row following the December arrest in Canada of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou on a US extradition request linked to Iran sanctions violations.

In a move observers see as retaliation over the Meng case, Chinese authorities detained two Canadians soon after, accusing them of activities that "endanger China's national security".

The phrase is often used by Beijing when alleging espionage, and few details have been given about their whereabouts or the cases against them.

In contrast, the arrest in Macau was announced by local police in a press conference over the weekend, and they outlined the allegations in some detail.

In its statement the Judiciary Police said the man "tried to transfer 249 million euros (S$384.5 million)".

Staff at the bank grew suspicious when the man's signature did not match what they had on record for the account and they alerted police.

The man was then arrested at the border trying to leave Macau on Friday evening.

Canadian officials at the Hong Kong consulate, which oversees Macau, did not respond to requests for comment.

Macau is the world's largest gambling hub, raking in five times as much as Las Vegas in gaming revenue. The vast majority of gamblers who visit the semi-autonomous city are Chinese nationals.