We’ve seen reports like this before (go here and read the paragraph starting “These days, Adelson’s LVS”).
But this one is quite recent, and includes additional documentation. From Think Progress (my emphasis and some reparagraphing throughout):
Things are getting awkward for Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate who pledged to spend a “limitless” amount of money to get Mitt Romney elected.
Adelson’s latest woes stem from business practices surrounding his lucrative casino in Macau, the only Chinese city with legalized gambling.
The Macau operation has long been under scrutiny but a new in-depth investigation from ProPublica and PBS focused on allegations of improper, and perhaps in some cases illegal, business dealings by Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands company in China.
While focusing on the possibility that Sands violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act with a $700,000 payment to a Chinese associate, PBS also released documents that bolstered accusations of business ties between Adelson’s shop and Chinese organized crime figures.
As you read, note that (a) the alleged ties are supported by documents; (b) tens of millions changed hands; (c) the men named are known to the U.S. government as Chinese mobsters; and (d) no one appears to be contesting the relationship.
PBS, first on the role of “junkets” in China:
William Weidner, president of Las Vegas Sands from 1995 to 2009, said he understood from the beginning that opening casinos in Macau meant dealing with “junkets” — companies that arrange gambling trips for high rollers.
Gambling is illegal in mainland China, as is the transfer of large sums of money to Macau. The junkets solve those problems, providing billions of dollars in credit to gamblers. When necessary, they [also] collect gambling debts, a critical function since China’s courts are not permitted to force losers to pay up.
Weidner said junkets are a natural result of China’s controls on the movement of money out of the country, channeling as much as $3 billion a month from the mainland to Macau.
“To Westerners, the junkets mean money laundering equated with organized crime or drugs,” he said. “In China where money is controlled, it’s part of doing business.”
Weidner resigned from the company after a bitter dispute with Adelson.
Now information on the ties between the Sands organization in Las Vegas and men with known mob ties. Note that “triad” is the term for “Chinese organized crime mob” according to PBS:
Nevada officials are now poring over records of transactions between junkets, Las Vegas Sands and other casinos licensed by the state, people familiar with the inquiry say. Among the junket companies under scrutiny is a concern that records show was financed by Cheung Chi Tai, a Hong Kong businessman.
Cheung was named in a 1992 U.S. Senate report as a leader of a Chinese organized crime gang, or triad. A casino in Macau owned by Las Vegas Sands granted tens of millions of dollars in credit to a junket backed by Cheung, documents show. Cheung did not respond to requests for comment.
Another document says that a Las Vegas Sands subsidiary did business with Charles Heung, a well-known Hong Kong film producer who was identified as an office holder in the Sun Yee On triad in the same 1992 Senate report. Heung, who has repeatedly denied any involvement in organized crime, did not return phone calls.
No one, including the Sands, is commenting, but the documents and money transfers are factual.
Sheldon Adelson runs a casino in a town (Las Vegas) that forbids doing business with organized crime. Sheldon Adelson is a making a good deal of money from deals in China that have raised serious questions about what, if any, role organized crime may have played in them. And Sheldon Adelson’s money is helping Mitt Romney run for president.
Stay tuned to this investigation. Remember, there are two — violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and violations of Nevada’s anti-mobster laws.
This will be another interesting test of Rule of Law for those in the Big Boy Club.
Tick tick tick.
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