Marina Bay Sands Facing Justice Department Money Laundering Inquiry
Posted on: June 5, 2020, 09:07h.
Last updated on: June 5, 2020, 11:18h.
The US Department of Justice (DoJ) is reportedly examining anti-money laundering violations at the Marina Bay Sands (MBS) in Singapore.
The probe centers around how management at the famed integrated resorts handled accounts of VIP gamblers. Marina Bay Sands Pte Ltd., a unit of Las Vegas Sands (LVS), is the operator of the Singapore venue. Bloomberg News reports that the DoJ issued a subpoena in January to Marina Bay Sands’ former head of compliance for documents pertaining to “money laundering facilitation” and possible violations of internal protocols.
As a matter of policy, the department generally neither confirms nor denies whether a matter is under investigation,” said a DoJ spokesman in response to a request for comment from Casino.org.
Unidentified sources told Bloomberg that an inquiry into the allegations in the US is still early in the process. But it could examine if whistleblowers suffered consequences for bringing to light the money laundering issue.
Vital Profit Driver
Marina Bay Sands, known for its three towers and iconic rooftop infinity pool, is one of the most profitable integrated resorts in the world, and a major contributor to Sands’ top and bottom lines. In a normal operating environment, one where properties aren’t closed because of global pandemics, MBS is more meaningful to the parent’s profit and revenue than its two Las Vegas venues.
In the fourth quarter of 2019, MBS drove $457 million in adjusted property earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) for LVS, or more than triple the amount contributed by the Venetian and Palazzo on the Las Vegas Strip.
MBS and Genting-owned Resorts World Sentosa enjoy a duopoly in Singapore – one that’s protected for another 30 days. Both venues are currently closed as the city-state grapples with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
LVS and Marina Bay Sands Pte Ltd. haven’t yet received requests for information regarding the money laundering matter, according to Bloomberg. But managers at the Southeast Asian venue say that allegations of misdeeds are examined and taken seriously.
Maybe Some Precedent
The DoJ inquiry centers around MBS’s relationships with junket operators, third-party lenders that use casino credit and the dispersal of cash in high rollers’ accounts. Previously, MBS encountered issues with transfers of some VIPs’ cash.
As Casino.org reported last October, Wang Xi, a Chinese man, sued the Singapore casino for $6.6 million, alleging managers at the property transferred money from his account to other gamblers without his consent.
That suit, filed in Singapore’s High Court, says the plaintiff’s funds were depleted through a series of 22 unauthorized transfers by MBS to the accounts of other guests. The Singapore Police Force is investigating that matter, and the suit prompted the city-state’s gaming regulator to tell MBS to bolster its third-party transfer policies and procedures.
Cash dispersal to multiple players at higher-end Asian casinos is common, because the transfers run through junket operators that bring the gamblers to the venues. Gamblers in the junket pool capital, sharing in wins and losses from various casinos they visit.
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