Macau bribe tale winds toward Beijing, Vegas

Last month, just after the great and good of the casino industry gathered for Global Gaming Expo Asia in Macau, the Wall Street Journal showcased the world casino capital’s shady side. The newspaper reported that Macau lawyer and legislator Leonel Alves passed along a $300 million bribe request to casino operator Sands China from a “high ranking” Beijing official.

I wrote that the report raises more questions than it answers. Among other things, I suggested the Beijing angle on the bribe could be camouflage for local graft; Alves, who’s been all over the place in his explanations, said in a recent radio interview that there was a Macau developer involved. My Asia Times article also suggested potential legal troubles for Sands China and parent company Las Vegas Sands stemming from the incident, even though it’s clear that the proposed bribe was not paid.

Answers are emerging thanks to a ProPublica investigation of Alves and his relationship with Sands China. The probe leads straight to Sands China chairman, Las Vegas Sands founder and my press conference pal, Sheldon Adelson, a key Republican and Likud Party benefactor. Stay tuned.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at, follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.