Prosecutors in Taiwan say a company described as a unit of Macau casino operator Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd is “suspected to have harmed” Taiwan’s “financial order” and “avoided the scrutiny” of Macau’s gaming regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ).
They allege the company – MCE International Ltd – illegally moved US$180 million between the island and the parent firm’s gaming facilities in Macau.
The statements are contained in a copy of an indictment from the Taipei District Prosecutors Office obtained by GamblingCompliance.com.
According to the media outlet, quoting the document, between July 2009 and January 2013, the Melco Crown unit transferred more than NTD5.4 billion (US$180 million) between Taiwan and the City of Dreams (pictured) and Altira casinos in Macau in violation of Taiwan’s cross border currency controls.
The indictment is dated July 22 but was handed down only on August 6.
“The illegal conduct of the defendant MCE International and the other defendants is suspected to have harmed this country’s financial order,” it said.
Melco Crown Entertainment said in a statement accompanying its second quarter earnings on August 7 that it would “defend vigorously any indictment brought against us, as based on Taiwan legal advice received, we believe our operations in Taiwan are in compliance with Taiwan laws”.
GamblingCompliance.com, quoting the indictment, says a Taiwanese husband and wife team surnamed Lin and Chang, “set up” a VIP gambling room called Bo Ying at City of Dreams in Macau and made large transactions with MCE International that “avoided the scrutiny of [Macau's] Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau [DICJ]“.
The report adds that the VIP room operation was linked to another Taiwanese called Chen Ying-chu.
Mr Chen was described in a Taipei Times newspaper editorial in November 2011 as a “bookmaker” running an “illegal operation” on the island.
Mr Chen has previously caused controversy by twice meeting with Ma Ying-jeou, the Hong Kong-born president of Taiwan; once in January 2008 before the latter’s election in March that year, and again in September 2009. Mr Ma has confirmed the meetings, which he said, were to solicit local personalities for their electoral support.
Around 100 customers listed in MCE International documents have been questioned by Taiwanese prosecutors, said GamblingCompliance.com. The list is said to include celebrities, businesspeople and politicians.
Prosecutors have also applied to a Taiwan court to confiscate NTD3 billion in MCE International funds that have been frozen since raids on its premises and other companies in January 2013.
MCE International’s two directors at the time its Taiwan premises were raided were Rowen Craigie, chief executive of Crown Resorts Ltd, an Australian casino operator that is an investor in Melco Crown; and Clarence Chung Yuk Man.
Mr Chung is chairman of Melco Crown (Philippines) Resorts Corp, a unit of Melco Crown that is an investor in the City of Dreams Manila casino property due to open at the turn of the year.
Mr Chung is also a Melco Crown Entertainment director according to the latter’s corporate website, and remains – said a Nasdaq filing on August 8 – chief executive of southeast Asia casino operator and equipment supplier Entertainment Gaming Asia Inc. Melco International Development Ltd, Crown’s partner in Melco Crown, is described in filings as the parent of Entertainment Gaming Asia’s principal shareholder, EGT Entertainment Holding Ltd.
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”The Macau government is not aiming to trivialise or drive out the junket sector, but to regulate the sector so that it would not hurt Macau’s reputation”
Alvin Chau Cheok Wa
Chief executive of privately-held VIP junket business Suncity Group