Shills, Bad Debtors or... Housekeepers?3 years ago
Handing out over $6million in credit is fairly normal for casinos, desperate to keep the high-rollers playing and – usually – losing. What most people wouldn’t find normal is that when the players fail to pay back the money, and the court comes knocking, you find out that the credit was actually given to two domestic housekeepers!
That is the astonishing claim by attorneys for two middle-aged Chinese women - Xiufei Yang, 59, and Meie Sun, 52 – who the Las Vegas Sands Corporation have been chasing to recoup $6.4million in unpaid baccarat debts.
Although only coming to light now, the bad debts trace back to 2012 when:
"Yang signed for credit for a player named Quanlong Wang,” then “sat nearby as he played with the borrowed chips. He initially won $5million before leaving for a trip to Los Angeles. Later that month he returned, placing bets as high as $300,000 a time, losing all his previous winnings and nearly $5million more.”
"In August of that year, a player Sun shilled for lost $1.38million that was never repaid, the lawyers said. Unlike in years past, those debts went unpaid. And in January and August of 2015, almost three years later, Clark County’s Bad Check Unit pressed charges. The criminal complaint filed against each woman was just two pages, charging them for defrauding the Sands.”
The special Reuters investigation report which has this week blown the case open to the public looks closely into the ties between casinos such as Sands, the high rollers who keep the casinos afloat – and the various middlemen (and women) who both sides use to keep the cash machine rolling.
The womens’ lawyers have claimed in court filings that Sands personnel were actually well aware that the massive lines of credit were actually intended for high-rolling businessmen, and the women were merely stooges – or shills – to keep the deals below the radar of federal anti-money laundering rules and officials.
Although the claims are simply a “smokescreen” according to Sands spokesman Ron Reese, who adds that the legal firms have no “clear evidence” that Sands were involved, Jeffrey Setness of the law firm Fabian VanCott and Kevin Rosenberg of Lowenstein & Weatherwax LLP believe that Yang and Sun are the “real victims”.
The lawyers for Yang and Sun allege that the situation which has made its way to the courts is one which Sands “initiated and to which it was completely complicit,” and several anonymous sources have backed up the claims that it is normal practice to extend lines of credit to hired middlemen.
Reuters write that:
"Asians account for as much as 90 percentof baccarat gambling in Las Vegas, with the majority being Chinese,” adding that “the Chinese revenue stream comes with a catch - most of these games are played on credit, because the sums are so large. Two-thirds of all table bets placed at the Sands Las Vegas properties are made through borrowing from the house, according to the company’s financial filings.”
This is where people like Yang and Sun come in.
"Gamblers use shills to gain additional credit lines after bad losing streaks, or because they wish to avoid disclosing the source of funds on casino records, according to six industry veterans with experience catering to high-stakes Chinese players,” write Reuters, reporting that: “It happens every day,” according to “an agent who specializes in bringing in Chinese high rollers.”
It is claimed the women were paid $2000-3000 in ‘tips’ for their part in the deals, deals which would be against the law in the state of Nevada. Reese, on behalf of Sands, said however that:
"They are the ones that signed the credit — they are responsible for it,” adding that it is not “a common practice for agents or anyone else for that matter, to sign markers on someone else’s behalf.”
The prosecutors are apparently now intending to ‘pursue the charges through a grand jury, rather than before a judge'.
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