Hong Kong has launched a money-laundering investigation into one of Macau’s top gambling-junket personalities and has frozen his assets, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The order to freeze the assets of Cheung Chi-tai and seven of his closely held companies was made under the city’s Organized and Serious Crimes Ordinance, according to a notice published in a local daily on Nov. 30.
Police posted the notice because they haven’t been able to locate Cheung, the Journal said, citing unnamed sources.
The order was related to a continuing probe into possible money laundering by Cheung, who, according to court testimony and other sources, has been one of the biggest shareholders in one of Macau’s largest junket operators, Neptune Guangdong Group.
A senior executive at Neptune Guangdong Group, however, told WSJ that Cheung is not among the company’s investors and that the group has no business connections with him.
Junket operators bring in high-rolling gamblers from mainland China, lend them money for betting in Macau, and then handle the debt collection. Their customers accounted for nearly two-thirds, or US$30 billion, of last year’s casino revenue in the former Portuguese enclave.
Cheung hasn’t been accused of any wrongdoing, but the notice advised him to contact the police about a lower court hearing scheduled for Feb. 26.
Cheung was identified as a high-ranking triad figure in a 1992 US Senate subcommittee report on Asian organized crime, the newspaper said.
In March 2011, a Hong Kong appeals court ruling identified Cheung as a triad leader who ordered the death of a casino dealer, it reported. Cheung wasn’t charged in the case, but a subordinate was sentenced for conspiracy to commit murder.
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