Employee transfers to third parties for more than $1 billion are being investigated at Marina Bay Sands. The Singapore casino resort of Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands has hired a prominent law firm to look into the dealings with gamblers’ money.
Davinder Singh Chambers LLC, a specialist in dispute resolution and international arbitration, has been appointed from the casino operator, Sands China, after Singapore police force initiated a probe into the third-party money transfers at the casino resort. The law firm will be investigating the dealings of casino staff at Marina Bay Sands with regards to anti-money laundering (AML) compliance.
Police Probe into the Casino
The Singapore police probe adds to the woes of the casino resort which is also a subject of investigation from the US Department of Justice (DoJ), the latter being particularly interested into potential AML violations with regards to VIP accounts handling and junket operations.
Last year, Wang Xi, a patron of the casino at Marina Bay Sands filed a lawsuit against the operator, claiming that $6.5 million from his account were transferred to other gamblers without his consent. The lawsuit was settled out of court in June as the casino agreed to fully reimburse the amount, and there was a non-admission of liability from both parties.
CRA Internal Review
Marina Bay Sands issued a statement regarding the lawsuit that it immediately and thoroughly investigated all concerns and its internal probe concluded that no money had been transferred against the client’s interest, but the lawsuit prompted the Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA) in Singapore to initiate a review of the casino’s internal procedures relating to third party money transfers.
Transactions spanning from 2013 to 2017 were thoroughly investigated by the Hogan Lovells law firm, which found out casino staff had not always followed compliance standards, as there were cases where payment details had been filled on pre-signed or photocopied authorization forms, as well as cases where original documentation was destroyed.
During the period, more than 3,000 letters of authorization worth about $1.4 billion were used by the casino staff to endorse transfers of funds from patrons to third parties. Most of these transfers had been made through junket operators, third party companies which provide high-rollers with transportation, accommodation and gambling credit.
The Singapore regulator concluded the review without finding breaches of AML requirements and issued an advice to Marina Bay Sands to strengthen its control measures. CRA issued a statement expressing its commitment to continue to closely monitor the effectiveness of the casino’s measures.
Davinder Singh Chambers’s representative declined to comment on the subject, while the Singapore police force said it was inappropriate to discuss an ongoing investigation.