Macau gaming firm narrowly avoids €249m theft attempt


macau-gaming-company-fraud-attemptMacau authorities have detained a Canadian man for allegedly attempting to steal €249m from a local gaming operator.

On Saturday, Macau’s Judiciary Police (PJ) announced that it had detained a 61-year-old ethnic Chinese man who holds Canadian citizenship. This man, identified only as Leao, had attempted to convince a local bank to transfer the enormous sum of money to a Hong Kong bank account held under his name.

PJ spokesperson Leng Kam Lon said Leao had entered an unidentified Macau bank last Monday and presented bank officials with a remittance slip and a letter of authorization purportedly issued by the unidentified “local entertainment company” okaying the transfer.

Bank officials grew suspicious of the transfer request after comparing the signature on the authorization letter to the sample signature in the bank’s records. Upon being told that the bank wasn’t prepared to authorize the transfer, Leao immediately legged it, taking the two apparently bogus documents with him.

The bank subsequently contacted the gaming operator, who denied authorizing the transfer. The bank reported the incident to the PJ on Friday, leading to Leao’s arrest the same day. Leao, who was reportedly attempting to leave Macau at the time of his arrest, denied the fraud allegations, despite the PJ having found the transfer documents on his person.

The PJ believe they have “enough proof” for the public prosecutor to charge Leao with aggravated fraud and using forged documents. The PJ also believe Leao had an unknown number of accomplices in his failed alleged scam.

While the ‘entertainment’ company’s identity remains a mystery, Macau’s licensed junket operators have been victimized by a number of significant internal theft scandals in recent years. In 2015, Dore Entertainment Co Ltd was the victim of a major heist – the scale of which remains unknown – allegedly perpetrated by a former Dore cage manager at a Wynn Macau VIP gaming room.

In 2014, an even larger heist was allegedly committed by a shareholder of the Kimren Group junket operation. A smaller but still significant internal theft hit the SJM Holdings-licensed L’Arc Macau casino in 2016. The rash of thefts caused Macau regulators to impose new capital requirements on its licensed junkets to ensure the future health of the sector.