Mob ties at Macau casinos?

March 9, 2012 12:32 pm

The rapid rise of casinos in the Macau region in China has received lots of media attention of late. Now, a Website that fashions itself after WikiLeaks said reams of public documents show possible ties to Chinese mobsters and some of the U.S. casino firms that have lucrative operations in Macau.

The Website, Casinoleaks-macau.com, urged casino regulators in the U.S. to take a closer look how casinos operate in Macau.

“We believe that the issues we raise are urgent public policy concerns that cannot be ignored given the huge sums of money involved and the danger that criminal involvement in gaming poses for the people of the United States,” wrote Jeffrey Fiedler, who helped launch the site with the backing of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE). The union is focused on junkets the casinos provide high rollers. The Economist detailed some of the reasons for Macau’s rapid growth.

A spokesman for MGM Resorts, which operates in Macau, called the allegations “baseless.” Several casino firms have come under scrutiny and allegations have been raised in some civil suits.

For example, the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission are probing the Las Vegas Sands for alleged bribery of foreign officials. The investigation was launched after a civil lawsuit by a former company executive alleged the casino had “involvement with Chinese organized crime groups, known as Triads, connected to the junket business.” The Sands is headed by Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino owner who has given millions toward Newt Gingrich’s bid for the GOP presidential nomination. Adelson denies any wrongdoing.

At the same time, Steve Wynn is embroiled in a legal battle with former friend, investor and board member Kazuo Okada, who raised questions about a $135 million donation to the University of Macau. Wynn denies any wrongdoing and moved to dump his former friend from his board, alleging “unacceptable conduct” and “inappropriate payments” by Okada to government officials in the Phillipines.

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