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The Macau Metro Monitor, August 6, 2012

SANDS PROBED IN MONEY MOVES  WSJ

The U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles is examining LVS's handling of money received several years ago from a Chinese-born Mexican drug trafficker, Zhenli Ye Gon, and Ausaf Umar Siddiqui, a former vice president at retail chain Fry's Electronics. 

It isn't clear whether prosecutors suspect Mr. Ye Gon was trying to launder money through the casinos to make it appear clean, or was simply transferring money there for gambling purposes. Either way, if the money was illicit, it could be considered money laundering, according to lawyers involved in the case.

Sands received more than $100 million from Mr. Siddiqui through a circuitous route, according to court filings in a later criminal case against him for taking kickbacks from Fry's vendors.  Filings in that case indicate that Mr. Siddiqui created a company called PC International LLC to receive kickbacks, then wired more than $100 million to two Sands companies, Venetian Marketing Inc. and WDR LLC, over a three-year period ending in 2008. That company also wired about $20 million to Destron, an MGM Resorts subsidiary, according to the filings.

Federal agents arrested Mr. Siddiqui in 2009 on charges of taking illegal kickbacks. He pleaded guilty and now is serving a six-year prison term.  That same year, the government's case against Mr. Ye Gon was dismissed after prosecutors found problems with evidence and witnesses. He still is being held in custody pending extradition to Mexico, where authorities want to put him on trial for drug trafficking and money laundering, according to court records filed in the extradition case.

POLICE ARREST 150 IN MACAU CASINO RAIDS Financial Times

Macau police raided casinos and hotels and detained 150 people over the weekend as part of an effort to curtail violent crime in Macau.  Steve Vickers, a former head of the Hong Kong police’s criminal intelligence bureau, said the recent killings were not comparable to the triad killings Macau became notorious for in the 1990s.  “It’s a completely different situation, but I do see increased pressure at the lower end of the junket operators and increased difficulties for them,” said Vickers.  Hong Kong police – who took part in the crackdown with mainland Chinese police – said the arrests were part of an annual exercise to combat crime in southern China.

SEVEN COMPANIES TAKE FAR EAST INVESTMENT GAMBLE RT.com

Seven companies are to invest over $625 million in building a gambling area in Russia’s Primorsky Territory in the Far East.  The area includes the city of Vladivostok.  Russia’s “First Eastern Gambling Company” says it will invest $30 million in building an entertainment and casino complex, and another company from Cyprus will invest $200 million to build a five-star hotel and casino the Primorsky region.

The area is looking to build 12 casinos by 2016 in the first phase of its development as a gambling centre, and by 2022 Russia plans to spend $2 billion constructing 16 hotels of varying classes with casinos, a yacht club, shopping malls and sporting venues for skiing and golf.  Revenues from the tourism are estimated between $2 billion-$7 billion once it is complete.  Russian nationals will be able to legally gamble in the zone.

Russia has offered effectively zero taxes on gross gambling revenues, in return for job creation and developing the area's tourism.