Chinese VIP Gambler Sues SkyCity Casino, Alleged Triad Junket Over Missing Millions
Posted on: March 12, 2021, 03:39h.
Last updated on: March 12, 2021, 11:22h.
A Chinese high roller is suing SkyCity Adelaide and two junket operators. The suit alleges the misappropriation of some A$4.84 million (US$3.75 million) in casino winnings.
Millionaire Linong Ma, a resident of both Hong Kong and Shanxi province in mainland China, alleges one of the junketers, Xiongming Xie, has links to organized crime. The lawsuit accuses Xie and his associate, Zhuangqian Fang, of fraud and SkyCity of negligence and breach of trust in relation to the missing millions.
According to the complaint, in May 2019, Ma visited SkyCity to gamble as part of Fang’s junket. But Sydney-based Xie was in fact organizing proceedings using China-based Fang’s junket license.
According to court filings, Xi is banned from every casino in Australia and has “substantial gambling debts.”
$5 Million Winning Streak
Chinese VIPs typically pay money to junkets via bank transfer prior to their trip. This gives them credit in the form of non-negotiable “rolling chips” at a casino VIP room, circumventing the strict controls on the movement of large amounts of money out of China.
Casinos partner with junkets and usually pay them a monthly commission, provided the gamblers they bring generate a minimum guaranteed rolling chip turnover. The junkets will settle up once the wealthy gamblers have returned to China.
Ma hit SkyCity on May 21, 2019 in the company of a Ms. Goh, who was “employed or engaged by Mr. Xie as an escort or hostess for high-rollers,” according to the lawsuit. Joining them was a Ms. Zhang, who also appeared to be in the employ of Xie.
Ma initially withdrew A$400,000 (US$310,000) in chips to play baccarat and promptly lost A$370,000 (US$286,720).
The next day, he reloaded with another A$600,000 (US$465,000) worth of chips and went on a winning streak, amassing chips to the value of A$5,048,500 (US$3,900,000) on top of his stake.
Argument at SkyCity
When Ma tried to cash out his chips, Goh told him it couldn’t be done until the following Monday. An argument ensued between Ma and the two women, who were “behaving in a furtive and suspicious manner,” according to the complaint.
SkyCity employees then placed the chips in a safety deposit box. Ma claims they told him only he could access the box.
The businessman had to return to Hong Kong to attend his son’s graduation, and he planned to collect his winnings in June on his return to Adelaide, where he has significant business investments.
But according to court documents, on May 29 someone at SkyCity transferred most of the money to Xie, who has made no attempt since to settle with Ma.
Xie’s Shady History
The lawsuit accuses Xie of being a “dangerous and violent criminal” with “links with Asian Triad criminal gangs.”
According to past reports in the Australian press, he is the former deputy of a wealthy junket operator called Tom Zhou – known as “Mr. Chinatown” — who worked with Crown Resorts and is wanted by Interpol for serious criminal conduct.
Xie faced criminal charges in Australia in 2019 over allegations he threatened a man with a knife while demanding the transfer of a A$10 million property (US$7.75 million).
In 2016, he was allegedly the target of an apparent murder attempt when he was stabbed outside his Sydney home by two men of Asian appearance.
The lawsuit is embarrassing for SkyCity at a time when the Australian casino industry is facing high levels of scrutiny over its relationships with junket operators and their alleged links to organized crime.
A damning anti-money laundering report published last month recommended that Crown Resorts should lose its New South Wales license because it had allowed triad gangs to launder money at its VIP rooms.
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