Federal investigators have targeted Las Vegas Sands Corp., a casino empire owned by billionaire Republican supporter Sheldon Adelson, for possible money laundering activity, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles may soon file criminal charges against the company due to its handling of financial transactions with a Mexican businessman who was later indicted for drug trafficking, according to sources.
Sources indicate, however, that Adelson himself is being investigated, although he may eventually face some heat for the actions of his company since he is its chief executive officer and largest shareholder.
The transactions eyed by investigators include the company’s handling of millions of dollars received from two big-time gamblers who may have gambled with money they obtained through illegal measures.
One of these wealthy gamblers was the wealthy Mexican who was indicted on drug charges in the United States, and the other is Zhenli Ye Gon, another Mexican citizen who was indicted in 2007 for allegedly selling raw ingredients used to make methamphetamine.
According to sources, the Sands Corp. is responsible for noticing warning signs that gamblers are using tainted money, and are supposed to alert federal authorities when such gamblers spend millions of dollars at its casinos.
But some observers believe that the federal investigation may be politically motivated, and the Wall Street Journal hinted this week that the Justice Department could be trying to slow Adelson’s efforts to elect Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate.
Sources say that Adelson plans to spend a remarkable $100 million on Republican candidates in this fall’s national elections.
Adelson accrued his wealth through his ownership of massive casinos in Las Vegas, Singapore, and Macau, and has become a polarizing public figure in the wake of his huge contributions to various candidates’ campaign coffers.
If, however, his casino did break the law by ignoring signs of money laundering, accusations of political motivations may fall on deaf ears.
Sources say that both questionable gamblers who spent millions of dollars at the Las Vegas Sands had long public records of legal disputes, and were not exactly flying under the radar.
And sources say that at least one of the targeted gamblers gave more than $100 million to the Sands, which is a sum that even a large casino would find hard to ignore.
To add further fuel to the fire, investigators are also determining whether the company breached the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by bribing officials in Macau, sources say.