Sands boss Sheldon Adelson could face an investigation into alleged links with prominent Chinese organized crime syndicates.
The Campaign for Accountability has reportedly asked the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and the Federal Election Commission to look into illicit Chinese cash being used for US political campaigns.
So far, however, Las Vegas Sands is sticking a middle finger squarely in the direction of the Washington DC-based watchdog group.
In a statement published this week, the Campaign for Accountability’s Anne Weismann spoke of the authorities’ long-held concerns about “the reach of the tentacles of Chinese organized crime.” They say they have collected hundreds of pages of allegedly incriminating evidence that suggests a link between Las Vegas Sands and Macau junket operators.
Las Vegas Sands shrugged off the accusations, with spokesman Ron Reese countering: “This stuff has been dragged out before and was repudiated by the DCCC [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committeem, who were forced to apologize to Sands in 2012 about similar accusations].
“Once again, a political stunt is being used to try and discredit Mr. Adelson’s name.”
Alleged China Links Nothing New
It’s not the first time that Adelson has been linked with suspect cash from China. In May, a former chief executive of Sands’ Macau operations, Steven Jacobs, fought a wrongful dismissal case against the firm.
Jacobs alleged that he was fired for stopping payments to a prominent Macau legislator, arguing they could be misconstrued as bribes.
The former exec also alleged that Adelson himself was against breaking off links with Chinese criminal organizations.
Adelson, meanwhile, had to testify in court that his Macau operations didn’t have direct links with the leader of a top Triad outfit.
However, documents revealed in court showed that Cheung Chi Tai, the leader of the Wo Hop To triad organization, was involved with junket contracts. It’s these types of VIP junkets that have been so key to Macau casinos’ fortunes over the past few years and are now being curbed by the mainland.
Sands China operates several casinos in Macau, including the Venetian Macau, Sands Cotai Central, and Sands Macau. All of the casinos have been affected by the Chinese government’s crackdown on corrupt officials bringing in cash for VIP trips.
Despite the downturn, Sands is pushing ahead with a brand new casino. The Parisian on the Cotai Strip opens next year.
As the Chinese mainland continues its aggressive stance against the flow of illicit cash into the city, Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR) in Macau’s casinos has been in steady decline.
This week, GGR figures for October showed a 17th straight month of decline for the city’s casino complexes.
China’s Fears Over Adelson ‘CIA Links’
While the US watchdogs fret over Adelson and his casino links, as well as where $100 million of campaign funds have appeared from, China has been busy with their own apparent fears over the gambling mogul.
In July, a confidential report was leaked which revealed the extent of China’s alleged paranoia over Adelson’s affairs in Macau.
According to the 2010 report, compiled by a private investigator, the Chinese government were convinced that, “US intelligence agencies are very active in Macao and that they have penetrated and utilized the US casinos to support their operations.” The investigation into China’s stance was actually commissioned by Sands China itself as it feared potential opposition from a hostile anti-gambling government.
“A reliable source has reported that central Chinese government officials firmly believe that Sands has permitted CIA/FBI agents to operate from within its facilities. These agents apparently ‘monitor mainland government officials’ who gamble in the casinos,” the leaked report revealed.