A shareholder of Wynn Macau’s US-based parent Wynn Resorts Ltd. has sought an explanation from the Macau government regarding a US$50 million payment the company made to secure a land parcel in Cotai for a multibillion-dollar casino-resort.
US-based International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), which owns some stake in Wynn Resorts, said it has asked Macau’s chief executive Fernando Chui and the city’s Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau to make available all the official documents exchanged between the Macau government and Tien Chiao Entertainment Ltd., a little-known Macau firm, within 10 business days.
In order to get the land rights for the casino-resort in Cotai, Wynn Resorts made a total payment of US$50 million to Tien Chiao, a company said to be owned by a person named Ho Ho, the Wall Street Journal reported in 2012, citing the casino operator’s chairman Steve Wynn.
The payment was made after Edmund Ho, the first chief executive of Macau after the city’s handover to Chinese rule, purportedly told Wynn in 2005 that the land plot in Cotai had been earmarked for Ho Ho, the report said.
However, the Journal was unable to locate records showing the land was ever owned by Ho Ho. Wynn Resorts’ contract for the land shows Wynn as the first official owner of the plot. Ho Ho, who was not believed to be related to Edmund Ho, couldn’t be located.
Wynn told the Journal that his company had vetted Ho Ho and his associates thoroughly, and that he and other executives were very much aware of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bans bribery by US companies abroad.
In a press release that IUOE issued on Tuesday, its representative Jeffery Fiedler insisted that a Wynn Resorts subsidiary had paid the US$50 million so that Tien Chiao and its principals would relinquish “certain rights with respect to its business interests” in a parcel of land in Cotai now serving as the site for a Wynn Macau resort casino project.
They key thing his firm wants to know is whether Ho Ho’s group had made any payment to the Macau government in order to get the land rights, he said. If a payment was indeed made, the IUOE wants to know the details, he said.
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