A Chinese high roller gambler is suing Sky City Adelaide and two junket operators over millions in missing winnings from a visit to the casino in May 2019. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
Fraud and negligence
Linong Ma, a high-roller Chinese gambler, has filed a lawsuit against SkyCity Adelaide and two junket operators, one with supposed ties to organized crime.
The millionaire plaintiff visited SkyCity in May 2019 through a junket operated by Zhuangqian Fang. According to the complaint, another junket operator by the name of Xiongming Xie actually organized the trip using Fang’s license. Australian media has linked Xie to Asian organized crime gangs known as triads. He has received a ban from the nation’s casinos as a result.
Ma won more than AU$5m (US$3.9m)
During his visit to SkyCity, Ma won more than AU$5m (US$3.9m). He has still never received these winnings, which SkyCity reportedly transferred to Xie later that month. Ma is suing the Australian casino, along with Xie and Fang, accusing the two junket operators of fraud and SkyCity of negligence and breach of trust.
Ma’s vanishing winnings
According to the lawsuit, Ma visited SkyCity in Adelaide on May 21, 2019 accompanied by “an escort or hostess for high-rollers” named Ms. Goh. Xie employed her along with another woman called Ms. Zhang to keep Ma company during his trip.
On one day, Ma withdrew AU$600,000 (US$465,000) in chips to play baccarat. After a successful winning streak, he earned more than AU$5m (US$3.9m) worth of profit. Ms. Goh, however, told Ma that he could not cash out his chips until the next Monday.
furtive and suspicious manner”
The lawsuit accuses Ms. Goh and Ms. Zhang of acting in a “furtive and suspicious manner” during this time. An argument ensued between Ma and his companions before SkyCity’s staff locked his chips away in a safety deposit box. According to the suit, SkyCity employees told Ma only he had access to this box. He subsequently returned to Hong Kong, intending to collect his winnings in June.
Ma was never able to collect these funds. On May 29, a SkyCity employee transferred the majority of the funds to Xie, labeled as a “dangerous and violent criminal” in the lawsuit. As of yet, the junket operator has not paid Ma any of the money.
Xiongming Xie’s crime links
Xie is the former deputy of billionaire and property developer Huang Xiangmo. Australia’s federal government expelled Xiangmo from the country for his foreign influence activities as an important member of the Chinese Communist Party. The high roller is also the central figure in an ongoing corruption inquiry and owes the Australian Taxation Office AU$140.6m (US$108.9m).
worked directly for Crown Casinos between 2013 and 2017
According to reports in Australian media, Xie also worked directly for Crown Casinos between 2013 and 2017. He earned a percentage of turnover from the rich Asian gamblers he lured to the Australian operator’s properties. Since then, a New South Wales inquiry brought to light instances of money laundering at Crown casinos and ties to triad junkets, costing the operator its Sydney license.
In 2019, Xie spent time in prison for threatening to kill a high roller and demanding the transfer of AU$10m (US$7.75m). The junket operator allegedly lured Ya Rong Chen to Sydney to extort and to gamble “by proxy” at the Star Casino, from which Xie was banned. A judge charged Xie with using an offensive weapon and demanding property by force with intent to steal.
Xie also has links to Tom Zhou, another high roller junket operator otherwise known as “Mr. Chinatown.” Interpol is currently hunting Zhou over allegations of serious criminal conduct.