SkyCity Adelaide Helped Major Statesman’s Relative Move Millions Out of China: AUSTRAC

Posted on: January 9, 2023, 08:06h. 

Last updated on: January 9, 2023, 08:11h.

A “close relative” of a “high-ranking foreign official” used VIP accounts at the SkyCity Casino in Adelaide, Australia to move millions of dollars out of China, while gambling more than $61 million at the casino’s baccarat tables. That’s according to Australian financial police AUSTRAC in documents filed to the Federal Court of Australia (FCA) last month.

Ming Chai
Chinese president Xi Jinping’s cousin, Ming Chai, above, has been on the radar of Australian authorities for at least six years. But he has not been charged with any crime and he is not named by AUSTRAC in recent court filings alleging money laundering and links to a suspected sex trafficker. (Image: WSJ)

The agency refers to the individual only as “Customer 11” throughout the filing. But Australian authorities are known to be looking into the activities of Ming Chai, the cousin of Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

That’s since 2016, when federal agents raided a private jet bound for Crown Melbourne Casino on suspicion of money laundering activities.

‘Mr Chinatown’

Federal agents were surprised to find Chai on board the Crown Resorts-owned jet, along with their intended target. That was Tom Zhou, aka “Mr Chinatown,” a junket operator and alleged crime boss, then wanted by Interpol.

AUSTRAC has launched civil penalty proceedings in the FCA against SkyCity Adelaide for “alleged serious and systemic non-compliance with Australia’s anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing (AML/CTF) laws.”

The AUSTRAC filing details Customer 11’s links to “Customer 14,” an “alleged international organized crime figure” suspected of “international money laundering,” whose junket operations exceeded AU$1.45 billion in revenues at another Australian casino.

Zhou, who was arrested in Fiji in 2020 and deported to China, where he has been charged with money laundering and corruption offenses, fits the bill.

‘Sex Slavery’

AUSTRAC is also concerned about Customer 11’s relationship to an individual known as “Customer 12.” This individual has been linked to alleged serious organized crime, including human trafficking and sex slavery.

“From 2015, open court records relating to another proceeding reported that Customer 12’s brothel had alleged links to organized crime and serious criminal activity, including money laundering, through the recruitment of women from a foreign region to work in the brothel for the material benefit of managers and staff, including Customer 12,” the AUSTRAC filing reads.

“Customer 12” appears to be a reference to Simon Pan, who was also named in recent regulatory investigations into casino operators Crown Resorts and Star Entertainment.

Pan was a business partner of Zhou’s. The AUSTRAC filing alleges Customer 11 And Customer 12 were also in business together. In addition, an unnamed casino in New Zealand reported concerns to the financial crime agency about Customer 11 and Customer 12 being associated with suspected sex workers, according to the filing.

Politically Exposed

Customer 11 was only identified by SkyCity as a “politically exposed person (PEP)” in November 2019, according to court documents.

Anti-money laundering regulations demand casinos pay extra scrutiny to PEPs, particularly foreign PEPs, because they present a greater risk of potential involvement in bribery or corruption and, therefore, money laundering.

Despite this, as of November 2019, the casino had not obtained any source-of-wealth information from Customer 11 and continued its business relationship with the individual until at least June 2020.

Chai has not been charged with any crime.

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