Casino Boom Spotlights Adelson's Chinese Links

U.S. Regulators Ill-Equipped To Keep Track of Macau Crooks

Under the Table: Investigators are ill-equipped to deal with problems posed by Chinese underworld involvement in Macau casinos like those owned by billionaire Sheldon Adelson.
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Under the Table: Investigators are ill-equipped to deal with problems posed by Chinese underworld involvement in Macau casinos like those owned by billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

By Reuters

Published October 24, 2012.
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A key former backer of Neptune is Cheung Chi Tai, named in the same 1992 Senate report as a top lieutenant of the Wo Hop To triad. In a more recent Hong Kong criminal trial, an informant testified that Cheung was a triad leader and in 2008 ordered him to murder a card dealer suspected of cheating at a Sands VIP room in Macau where Cheung had an ownership interest. Lower-level triad members were convicted in the case, while Cheung was not charged and could not be reached for comment.

Cheung helped underwrite Neptune’s purchase of a stake in junket operator Hou Wan in 2007 and for a time owned 8 percent of Neptune. Though Cheung disposed of his stake, he has maintained other connections to Neptune, corporate records in Hong Kong and Macau show.

For example, his 50-50 partner in a company begun in 2003, Lei In Peng, also owns a firm that has more than 18 percent of Neptune’s stock. Lei couldn’t be reached for comment.

Neptune’s chairman, Lin Cheuk Fung, served as an independent agent from 2005 to 2009, signing up to bring gamblers to Wynn and MGM casinos in Las Vegas. Neptune didn’t respond to requests for comment, while Lin couldn’t be reached.

Wynn acknowledged using Lin as an agent but declined to comment further. MGM spokesman Alan Feldman said only that his company had “a comprehensive and robust compliance program that involves several former regulators and law enforcement officials who review all of our junket operators.”

Though Neptune’s links are complex, they are easier to untangle than most junket operators because the company is publicly traded. Investigators in both Las Vegas and Macau say they simply don’t know who stands behind many of the other junkets.

Overall, said casino consultant and author Jim Kilby, the junket issue “may be too big for gaming regulations.”


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