The Chengdu Exhibition and Tourism Group’s plans to build the first international casino in Samoa is now up in the air after Chinese media reports said that the company’s chairman, Deng Hong, and his chief executive, are being investigated by authorities over accusations of corruption stemming from previous land deals.
The Chinese consortium, which has been involved in major hotel and development projects across China, signed a memorandum of understanding with the Samoan Government last year to build, develop, and operate the country’s first casino. But apparently, Hong’s in a wee bit of trouble himself as Communist Party anti-corruption officials have kept him in custody since March, delaying visits to Samoa and leaving little updates to the Samoan government regarding the issue.
At the time the deal was announced, Samoa’s casino project advisor Robbie Kearney seemed excited about the partnership with the Chengdu Exhibition and Tourism Group. “They’ve been extremely good to deal with as they do it in a business-like manner and they are very prompt and efficient,” he told One News back in March. “We are very happy with them as an operator.”
The company’s plans for the casino would have also included a 500-room resort, a golf course, and numerous dining and retail options. More importantly, the development would have also helped in decreasing Samoa’s unemployment rates while also kick-starting the island’s tourism industry.
“It would be the first big resort for Samoa and could be the take off point for the development of our tourism industry,” said Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi.
But with the issues Chengdu Exhibition and Tourism Group is facing, the project now appears to be in limbo, something Malielegaoi is understandably disappointed about. He’s still cautiously optimistic that the everything will be ironed out and the development of the casino will still go ahead as planned. But the man also appears to be prepared for the worst and is just opting to see how the case involving Chengdu unfolds.
“What transpires at the present moment has something to do with domestic politics,” Malielegaoi said. “So what we can do is wait and see.”