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The Macau Metro Monitor, December 4, 2012

CHINA TIGHTENS REINS ON MACAU WSJ

In recent weeks, police in mainland China and Macau have detained people from at least three of Macau's biggest junkets.  Some of the detentions have occurred in China and in other cases, the detainees have been moved there.  The recent detentions "are an attempt by the Chinese government to tell people in the market that they need to behave, especially regarding underground money transfers," said Hoffman Ma, deputy chief executive of Ponte 16, an SJM property. 

Last month at Wynn Macau, police detained a partner of one of Macau's major junket operators who has ties to Bo Xilai, the disgraced Chinese politician. The partner, Pang Yufeng, and his associates, including his driver, were taken to China at the request of Chinese authorities.  Pang is one of four partners at junket operator David Star, which has a presence at all six of Macau's casino operators, including properties owned by WYNN and LVS.  Pang is also the director of a David Star affiliate called Zhong Ying Sociedade Unipessoal Lda., which operates at Venetian Macau. 

Qin Si Xin, another partner of David Star, is among those who have been detained in China.  Qin, a mainlander, is listed on a LVS ledger viewed by the Journal that shows intracompany transactions between Macau and Las Vegas.  In September 2009, he received $1.65 million at the Venetian in Las Vegas from a junket operator in Macau, according to the ledger. It is unclear what the payment was for, but there is no evidence that Mr. Qin's transaction violated any laws. 

Transfers where money flows across borders via casino accounts have raised concerns among casino executives and U.S. authorities that customers could exploit the intracompany accounts to launder money. The apparent crackdown comes as the Macau government conducts a major review of its antimoney-laundering rules. Hong Kong tightened its antimoney-laundering rules in April, which pushed banking business to Macau, people familiar with the transactions said.