Casino junket operator, cryptocurrency investor and reputed triad bigwig Wan ‘Broken Tooth’ Kuok-koi has been targeted for sanctions by the US federal government.
On Wednesday, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions against a series of “corrupt actors and their networks across several countries in Africa and Asia.” The OFAC claimed the move was to mark International Anti-Corruption Day, which was established by the United Nations in 2003.
Any US-based assets or entities even partially controlled by any of the sanctioned figures “are blocked and must be reported to OFAC.” The sanctions prohibit all transactions “by US persons or within (or transiting) the United States” that might involve said assets. Contributing or receiving any type of asset involving the sanctioned individuals is equally out of bounds.
Among the individuals singled out for sanctions is ‘Broken Tooth’ Koi, described in the OFAC’s release as “a member of the Communist Party (CCP) of China’s Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference” as well as “a leader of the 14K Triad.”
Wan was released from Macau’s Coloane Prison in 2012 after serving 14 years of a 15-year sentence for loansharking, criminal association and illegal gambling. Wan almost immediately declared his intentions to return to Macau’s VIP gaming sector but didn’t actually open his own VIP room until a few years later.
Wan later surfaced as a cryptocurrency investor, lending his prodigious name to an initial coin offering (ICO) of Macau-based Dragon Corp, which sought to make it easier for junket operators like Wan to move money on and off the Chinese mainland.
But association with Wan’s name proved to be too hot for Dragon Corp, which attempted to distance itself from their alleged benefactor. Undaunted, Wan surfaced the following year supporting a different Cambodia-based ICO, the proceeds of which he pledged as prize money for a series of chess and poker tournaments in China (which don’t appear to have ever happened).
The OFAC said Wan had been targeted due to his senior position in the 14K Triad. The OFAC designated three Wan-owned or -controlled entities, including the Cambodia-based World Hongmen History and Culture Association, which the OFAC claims 14K is utilizing in “an effort to legitimize itself.”
The OFAC further allege that the Hongmen entity has “managed to co-opt elite figures in Malaysia and Cambodia” in a bid to “paper over illegal criminal activities by framing their actions in terms of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).” Hongmen has reportedly focused its local energies on cryptocurrencies, real estate and a security company.
The OFAC also designated Wan’s Hong Kong-based Dongmei Group, described as a ‘key investor’ in the Saixigang industrial zone project in Myanmar. Dongmei has also been linked to the sprawling development going up in Myanmar’s Shwe Kokko region, which recently made headlines for China’s denials that the dodgy casino and cryptocurrency hub had anything to do with BRI.