Sands Forming Committee to Examining Money Transfers at MBS


Posted on: March 29, 2021, 09:26h.ย 

Last updated on: March 29, 2021, 10:17h.

Las Vegas Sands (LVS) is reportedly forming a committee to examine possible breaches of anti-money laundering standards at its Marina Bay Sands (MBS) property in Singapore.

MBS probe
Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. Las Vegas Sands is forming a committee to examine money transfers at the venue. (Image: South China Morning Post)

Citing unidentified sources familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reports the Las Vegas-based gaming operator hired law firm Vinson Elkins to help with the review.

The committee of three independent board members is reviewing money transfers among high-rollers and third parties at Marina Bay Sands, as well as any possible retaliation against whistle blowers,โ€ according to the news agency.

The special committee comes after scrutiny by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and local Singapore authorities for its handling of large money transfers involving VIP clients.

Last September, it was reported that Sands hired Davinder Singh Chambers LLC, a Singaporean law firm that specializes in dispute resolution and international arbitration. The goal was to examine MBS employeesโ€™ handling transfer requests, and whether any instances of violating anti-money laundering rules occurred.

Root of Singapore Scrutiny

LVS drew attention from DOJ and local officials after Wang Xi, a Chinese gambler, sued Marina Bay Sands in 2019. He claimed staff at the venue transferred S$9.1 million (Singapore dollars) from his gaming account to other patrons without his permission.

He alleged those unauthorized transfers took place in 2015 and that his account was whittled down through a series of 22 unauthorized transfers. Legal documents detailing Wangโ€™s suit against MBS donโ€™t indicate exactly how much money was sent to the other clients. But the plaintiff made clear he didnโ€™t know those people.

The case was settled last year with a SGD$6.5 million award to Wang. At the time, it was the equivalent of US$9.1 million. Neither side admitted culpability in the matter.

The litigation, which drew an investigation from the Singapore Police Force, prompted the city-stateโ€™s gaming regulator to prod MBS to enhance its third-party money transfer guidelines.

DOJ Still Looking into Matter

Last June, DOJ launched a probe into anti-money laundering violations at MBS. At that time, it was reported that the department may be examining whether or not whistleblowers suffered duress for bringing light to the issue.

Bloomberg reports that an internal examination by LVS revealed MBS staff processed thousands of client transfers from 2010 to 2018. They were worth a combined $1.21 billion. The wires were legal, but employees supposedly took liberties to get clients to the venue to gamble, including filling in blank forms with banking details.

Marina Bay Sands previously said it reduced third-party transfers, with that figure falling dramatically for the five years ending 2018. It also said that it bolstered security around those transactions.

The integrated resort is one of just two in Singapore, and one of the most profitable gaming venues in the world.