Marina Bay Sands Casino Investigates Gambling Money Transfers Worth $1bn

  • Top law firm hired to review employees' handling of transfers of gamblers' funds to third parties
  • Singapore police and US Department of Justice also looking at MBS’s third-party transfers
  • Casino sued last year for allegedly transferring $6.7m of a patron's funds without his knowledge
  • Subsequent internal review found instances where staff failed to follow compliance standards
  • Singapore's CRA also probed casino following lawsuit but did not discover any AML breaches
female using magnifying lens to investigate financial documents
The Marina Bay Sands casino in Singapore has hired a top law firm to investigate its employees’ transfers of $1bn worth of gamblers’ money to third parties. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Looking for answers

The Marina Bay Sands casino in Singapore has reportedly hired a law firm to help carry out an investigation into employees transferring more than $1bn of gamblers’ funds to third parties.

The Las Vegas Sands Corp-owned casino has engaged Davinder Singh Chambers LLC, a well-known law firm in Singapore that specializes in international arbitration and dispute resolution. The firm will be reviewing the handling of transfer requests by casino staff to ensure that all relevant anti-money laundering protocols were followed.

potential anti-money laundering regulations violations

Davinder Singh Chambers LLC’s appointment comes after police in Singapore started a probe of third-party transfers at the casino. The US Department of Justice has also been scrutinizing potential anti-money laundering regulations violations at the Marina Bay Sands, with a particular interest in how the casino does business with VIP gamblers and junket operators.

Probe comes after recent lawsuit

The latest internal investigation is not the first time that the Marina Bay Sands has had to look into transfers to third parties. Last year, the casino faced lawsuit allegations that it had transferred S$9.1m (US$6.7m) of a patron’s funds without his knowledge.

allegations that it had transferred S$9.1m (US$6.7m) of a patron’s funds without his knowledge

An out-of-court settlement was reached in July 2020 and saw the casino reimburse the total sum to patron Wang Xi. Both parties agreed to a “non-admission” of liability. In a statement on the lawsuit, Marina Bay Sands informed that it immediately and thoroughly investigated all concerns. The probe concluded that no money had been transferred against Wang’s intent. 

Authorized third-party money transfers of this kind are considered legal. They are commonly used by wealthy Asian gamblers to pool losses and winnings at various casinos.

Earlier internal review

Marina Bay Sands underwent a prior internal review after Singapore’s Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA) initiated a probe into the casino’s handling of transfers following Wang’s 2019 lawsuit.

At the time, the Hogan Lovells law firm looked at the facility’s transactions from 2013 to 2017 and found that employees were not always properly following the necessary compliance standards. These included cases where payment details were being filled out on photocopied or pre-signed authorization forms. Investigators also uncovered instances which saw original documents destroyed. 

The CRA ultimately advised Marina Bay Sands to strengthen its control measures, but it did not discover any breaches of anti-money laundering requirements. A statement by the CRA on the matter expressed the authority’s commitment to “continue to exercise close oversight to ensure that MBS’ measures are effective.”

Important region for LVS

The Asian operations of Las Vegas Sands (LVS) are very important to the company, having contributed approximately 85% of the total $13.7bn revenue in 2019. As well as the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, the largest casino company in the world has numerous properties in Macau through its Sands China subsidiary. This is in addition to the properties it owns in the United States.

The Singapore casino has been operating at reduced capacity since July 1 following COVID-19 enforced closures. A $2.71bn loan was secured in 2019 to finance the expansion of the resort.