Marina Bay Sands Faces Investigation Over $1bn in Transfers
Las Vegas Sand Corp.’s iconic Marina Bay Sands casino in Singapore has hired a famous law firm to conduct a probe into employee transfers estimated to be around $1 billion. The transfers were allegedly derived from gamblers’ funds and sent to third parties.
Davinder Singh Chambers LLC was chosen by the Singapore police to conduct a probe on Marina Bay Sands. The firm, one of most trusted in Singapore, specializes in international arbitration and dispute resolution.
Marina Bay Sands is currently embroiled in scrutiny from authorities in Singapore as well as the United States as the U.S. Department of Justice is looking into the activities of the Singapore based casino.
In 2019, the casino was sued by a patron who alleged that he lost S$9.1 million ($6.7 million).
The plaintiff argued in the suit that Marina Bay Sands employees transferred his funds to third parties without his knowledge or consent. The lawsuit was settled out of court in June 2020. Marina Bay Sands agreed to refund the entire contested amount to the plaintiff but did not admit any guilt or liability.
Las Vegas Sands Stocks Dip in 2020
Marina Bay Sands carried out their own internal investigation following the lawsuit and said they found no anomalies in the transfers. They also affirmed their close working relationship with Singaporean regulators Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA) to ensure no future issues.
The CRA’s investigation into the matter concluded that there was no wrongdoing from Marina Bay Sands, but also noted that the casino had some weaknesses in how they handled fund transfers between customers.
Las Vegas Sands stock dropped immediately after the news got out, ending in a 4.2% dip in stock price in New York, after a peak loss of 8.9% the highest figure since March 2020. When compared to 2019, Las Vegas Sands stock is down 25% for 2020.
Third-Party Transfers Tied to Junket Use
The 2019 lawsuit led to further scrutiny on how the Marina Bay Sands handles third-party transfers. Such transactions are technically legal, but have been most associated with junket operators. Third-party transfers are used by junkets to keep better track of wins and losses and allow Chinese high-rollers to get around China’s strict controls of the Yuan.
Junkets provide funds upfront for their high-rollers during overseas gambling trips, who then pay the junket operators once they return to China. Junket operators face much more stringent regulations in Singapore compared to other Asian gambling hubs such as Manila and Macau.