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China – IUOE highlights ownership concerns with Macau junket

By - 1 September 2015

The International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), a US-based trade union, wants Wang Qishan, head of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), to investigate ownership issues and financial enterprises with stated ties to the Macau junket operation Neptune.

The junket operates VIP gaming rooms in Wynn, L’Arc, StarWorld, Sands Macao, Grand Lisboa, Sheraton, Galaxy, City of Dreams, Venetian and Four Seasons Hotel.

The financial companies, a Hong Kong-based firm called “Royal Bullion” and its wholly-owned subsidiary in Shenzhen, China named “Goldman Sachs (Shenzhen) Financial Leasing”, are controlled by family members of Cheung Chi Tai.

Public records show that Mr. Cheung and his family have had multi-faceted ties to the Neptune gambling operation in Macau. According to the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Cheung has historically been “one of the biggest shareholders” in the VIP operator Neptune Guangdong Group, which has claimed interest in as many as 15 high roller clubs in Macau. The Journal noted that Mr. Cheung attended a Neptune Guangdong event in March 2014 and handed out business cards identifying him as an executive director for the group. A Neptune Guangdong official, though, told the Journal that Cheung Chi Tai currently has “no business connections” with the junket group.

Based on the IUOE’s new and exclusive research findings, Mr. Cheung’s relatives Cheung Chun Pong and Ng Chor Yam established the precious metals trading company “Royal Bullion” in Hong Kong in September 2009. Royal Bullion advertises itself as a “strategic partner” with the VIP gaming enterprise Neptune Guangdong Group and the Hong Kong listed junket investor Neptune Group. Royal Bullion later set up a wholly owned foreign subsidiary, “Goldman Sachs (Shenzhen) Financial Leasing”, across the border in Shenzhen which claims to be the city’s largest foreign financial leasing company.

IUOE spokesperson Jeff Fiedler said: “First of all, we do not believe this Shenzhen-based firm set up by the Cheung family has any relationship whatsoever with the New York financial institution Goldman Sachs. That said, these enterprises appear to be yet another access point for the Cheung family’s involvement in the Neptune gambling operation. It is these types of ancillary financial institutions, operating on both sides of the border and working in tandem with Macau’s junkets, that we are highlighting for the Party’s Discipline Inspection agency. Capital flight and cross-border currency movement is clearly a major point of emphasis right now for China, and Macau’s gambling system has traditionally played a critical role in this dynamic. The IUOE’s initial research findings point to many more junket-linked businesses operating inside mainland China.”

Mr. Fiedler added: “Macau’s current gambling regulatory structure we believe is ill-equipped to monitor and adequately regulate a junket’s outside partnerships and financing arrangements. Enforcement bodies in mainland China seem best positioned to monitor these types of financial enterprises.”
He concluded by stating: “Based on recent news reports concerning Cheung Chi Tai as well as the expansive role Neptune plays in Macau’s junket industry, we believe these Cheung-family financial enterprises warrant particular scrutiny at the present time.”

The IUOE represents over 2,000 members working in casinos in Las Vegas, Nevada. It is currently maintaining a website on the Macau gaming industry, www.MacauGamingWatch.com.

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