Macau Triad Leader ‘Broken Tooth’ Wan Kuok-koi Sanctioned by US Government for Expanding Criminal Empire
Posted on: December 11, 2020, 12:28h.
Last updated on: December 12, 2020, 12:19h.
Notorious Macau gangster Wan Kuok-koi, aka “Broken Tooth” Koi, has been sanctioned by the US government.
According to the Treasury Department, Wan is still the head of the 14K Triads and has been spreading his criminal network through Southeast Asia and across China’s Belt and Road economic bloc.
Under the new sanctions, American citizens are forbidden from doing business with Wan. Any assets he holds in the US will be frozen.
Who is Wan Kuok-koi?
Wan earned notoriety in the 1990s when he led the 14K during a vicious turf war against rivals the Shui Fong. During that time, the two triad groups fought for control of Macau’s illegal gambling dens and legal casino VIP rooms.
According to Australian authorities, Suncity CEO Alvin Chau was once a 14K member under Wan. Suncity is now the biggest junket operator in the world. The multi-billion conglomerate has interests in casinos, real estate, and the entertainment business.
Wan was arrested in May 1998, the day before the opening night of a movie the gangster had financed about himself.
In November 1999, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of illegal gambling, loansharking, criminal association, and the attempted car-bombing of a police chief.
His incarceration symbolized the end of triad dominance in Macau. A month later, Portugal transferred sovereignty to China after more than 100 years of colonial rule. Macau was no longer a weakly governed colonial outpost where organized crime could exert control.
Back in the VIP Biz
“Broken Tooth” was released in 2012 into a new Macau. The region had transformed into the modern special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China, and it had become the wealthiest casino market in the world.
Sources told reporters Wan wanted to get back into the junket business. In 2015, it was widely reported he had opened a VIP room at an unnamed casino. This was later revealed to be the Guoying VIP Club, which opened at L’Arc Casino in May of that year.
Wan also flirted briefly with cryptocurrency, and was a reputed backer of the controversial Dragon Coin project, which was promoted by disgraced PR firm Cambridge Analytica. It has since tried to distance itself from the gangster.
But according to the Treasury, since his release, Wan has been busier outside of Macau, focusing his attention on more lawless areas of Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar. Having gained membership of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), an advisory body to the ruling Communist Party, Wan founded something called “the World Hongmen History and Cultural Association (WHHCA).”
The Hongmen are a secret Chinese fraternal society, akin to the Masons. But the Treasury believes Wan’s organization is a triad front.
At the launch of the Cambodia headquarters of the WHHCA, Wan promised to “establish Hongmen schools in order to let foreigners and overseas Chinese study Chinese books, and to let foreigners read about loyalty, filial piety, benevolence, and justice.”
He also said he planned to invest in eCommerce, selling Hongmen-branded watches and tea, and building Hongmen hotels and casinos.
Also sanctioned by the US is Hong Kong-based company the Dongmei Group, and the Palau China Hung-Mun Cultural Association, both of which are allegedly controlled by Wan. Dongmei is currently building the Saixigang Industrial Zone in Cambodia.
Zhao Wei Expanding Empire?
Saixigang is one of several projects that rogue developers have falsely claimed are part of China’s Belt and Road initiative. The initiative is a massive global infrastructure development strategy that hopes to develop a China-centered global trading network by 2049.
Another is the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Laos, which Chinese casino operator Zhao Wei is believed to run as his own personal fiefdom.
Zhao is also sanctioned by the US government, which has described his business interests as a “horrendous” transnational criminal organization. According to federal officials, Zhao engages in drug trafficking, human trafficking, child prostitution, money laundering, bribery, and wildlife trafficking, much of which is facilitated through his Kings Romans Casino in the SEZ.
CNN reported last week that Zhao was in the process of expanding his empire and is building a port in Laos, 12 miles upriver from his casino.
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