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Mike Johnson June 5, 2020 3 min read
Marina Bay Sands Under Investigation by US Department of Justice
The US Department of Justice is investigating Marina Bay Sands, the Singapore integrated casino resort of Las Vegas Sands (LVS), a recent Bloomberg report suggests. The probe into the dealings of the gaming venue is seeking to establish whether anti-money laundering regulations were breached while handling VIP accounts.
Former Head of Compliance Subject of Investigation
In January, a grand jury subpoena was issued against a former compliance chief from the casino resort, with prosecutors from the Justice Department looking for documents or records related to the alleged violations, including operations through junket companies and other third-party lending using credit from the casino.
The inquiry into the dealings of one of the most profitable integrated casino resorts in the world is also seeking to establish whether there was any retaliatory action against potential whisleblowers, with the inquiry still at its early stages. The issued subpoena requested information regarding another former casino employee, who supposedly carried out fund transfers for the highrollers.
CRA Inquiry Related to Money Transfers
The gaming property is also facing an ongoing investigation into its money transfer policy by the Casino Regulatory Authority in Singapore, but a regulator’s spokesperson confirmed the CRA had not received any requests from the US DoJ with regards to Marina Bay Sands, declining to further comment on the inquiry.
Singapore’s regulator requires casinos to have internal controls and authorization processes in place, to comply with requirements regarding anti-money laundering and terrorism financing, and is committed to ensure gaming venues are not involved in any criminal action, taking seriously allegations of unauthorized money transfers.
Last year the CRA asked Marina Bay Sands to review its third-party transfer process, after a lawsuit was filed against the company. Wang Xi, one of the regular visitors to the casino, claimed $6.5 million from his account were transferred to other casino patrons without his approval.
By that time, the casino’s internal probe found instances of its employees violating established procedures regarding transfer of funds, with payment details written on pre-signed or photo-copied authorization forms and the original documents being destroyed.
Marina Bay Sands Is LVS’s Pillar
Marina Bay Sands is accounting for more than 20% of total revenue of Las Vegas Sands and one-third of its operating income, with the company operating the resort and the Macau gaming venues, Sands China, contributing to 85% of nearly $14 billion of revenue generated by the parent company last year.
The integrated casino resort with its 3 hotel towers, 55 floors each, topped with a boat-shaped deck and a pool, and a huge 160,000 square-foot gaming floor, opened doors in 2010 and almost immediately became a popular attraction among tourists.
Marina Bay Sands, as well as the other casino in Singapore, Genting’s Resorts World Sentosa, is still closed, waiting for the restrictions on non-essential businesses to be lifted. Both gaming properties shut down operations April 7 to comply with state orders.