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STDM Accused of Money Laundering

17 June 2004

MACAU – As reported by the China Standard: "Stanley Ho's multibillion-dollar gaming flagship Sociedad de Tourism e Diversoes de Macau (STDM) is allegedly at the centre of a money-laundering scheme moving billions of US dollars out of China through Macau into Hong Kong, according to a story in today's edition of the Far Eastern Economic Review.

"The report by prize-winning writer Barry Wain indicates the story partly grew out of allegations by Winnie Ho, one of Asia's most powerful women and Stanley Ho's sister, that he had forced her to relinquish her stake in the Macau gaming operations and deprived her of hundreds of millions of dollars after she provided the entire startup capital for STDM in 1962.

"…In addition, the story says, Ho's spokeswoman, Janet Wong, denied comment on the larger story about money-laundering, saying if there are concerns about the operations of the casinos in Macau, these should be referred to the proper authority.

"…Under Chinese law, citizens who leave the mainland as tourists or on business can take no more than US$5,800 with them. Yet, the report said, many can be seen wagering tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars a night at the tables in Macau. Central government officials were quoted as saying billions of dollars a year are smuggled to Hong Kong and Macau.

"Chinese who deposit money inside the mainland and collect it in Macau casinos are not required to gamble, according to central government officials. Indeed, the report says, the funds are available for collection in three convenient options - cash for shopping, chips for gambling or a cash cheque for easy transfer to another location, they say.

"…Documents provided to the Review by Winnie Ho allegedly indicate triad involvement in the casinos through VIP rooms, which were originally designed to allow well-heeled gamblers to play in relative privacy and comfort, the story says. The VIP rooms, it continues, have proven a boon to both STDM and Macau.

"…Allegedly, the story continues, a STDM list of loans to VIP rooms in 2001 includes loans from several convicted criminals and many others identified by retired Hong Kong police and central government officials as past or present triad bosses and members or persons with triad links…"

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