Macau junket operator Amax International Holdings has won a court case over the disputed ownership of the Beijing Imperial Palace Hotel.
On Friday, Macau Business reported that Macau’s Court of First Instance had ruled on June 15 that Amax subsidiary Empresa Hoteleria de Macau was the rightful owner of the Imperial Palace property, dealing a blow to Victory Success Holdings Ltd, an offshoot of Macau’s largest junket operator, Suncity Group Holdings Ltd.
The fight for control of the Imperial Palace, formerly known as the New Century Hotel, dates back to 2012, when a former paramour of Amax chairman Ng Man Sun claimed the property as her own after the couple split up. Ng had transferred 80% of his stake in Empresa Hoteleria to his ex before they split up but always insisted this transfer was ‘temporary.’
In 2016, Empresa Hoteleria announced that it had transferred the ownership stake to Victory Success the year before, purportedly as the settlement of a debt. This March, the Macau court ruled that Victory Success had “pretended” to hold a general assembly meeting, which in the court’s view invalidated the ownership transfer.
The following month, Victory Success sent around 40 staffers to forcibly take over the hotel and change all the locks. In May, the court issued an injunction ordering Victory Success to vacate the building. Victory Success challenged this injunction but its arguments were swatted down by the June 15 ruling.
The Imperial Palace hasn’t welcomed any guests since 2016, when the Macau Government Tourist Office ordered the property closed due to the ownership squabble having contributed to the general demise of the property.
Amax had also waged a long-running war regarding the property’s Greek Mythology Casino, which operated under an SJM Holdings license until it shut down in December 2015. Amax held a nearly one-quarter stake in the company that ran Greek Mythology, but claimed it hadn’t received any payments or proper accounting of gaming revenue for years.
In June 2012, Amax chairman Ng was viciously attacked by a gang of thugs while he was visiting the then New Century Hotel. Conflicting reports claimed the six attackers were armed with either hammers or razors, and speculation was that the attack was meant to ‘send a message’ from parties unknown.