Monday, August 06, 2012

Maybe the DCCC Apologized To Sheldon Adelson Too Soon?


Organized crime figure Sheldon Adelson is now the #1 biggest donor to the Mitt Romney campaign and to the Republican Party. He also gave unprecedented $5 million dollar bribes-- walking around money-- to both Eric Cantor and John Boehner. Boehner, horrified, immediately turned the tainted cash over to the NRCC. Cantor has been using it to build personal power by electing preferred stooges in GOP primaries, like Richard Hudson over Tea Party fave Scott Keadle in North Carolina. Romney, the GOP and Cantor are reveling in all that Adelson cash knowing full well it's all suspect money and that Adelson is under investigation by the Feds for a life that is a veritable crime spree.

When the DCCC reported on a blog that Adelson runs a Chinese prostitution ring-- which a former senior executive in his sleazy gambling empire has testified is true-- Adelson threatened to sue and the DCCC immediately backed down and, tail between their legs, apologized. Yesterday Las Vegas Review Journal columnist Steve Sebelius suggested they shouldn't have and went on to list some of the known knowns about Adleson.
Adelson has elected not to sign a contract with the Culinary union, which is his right. But Adelson went further: When the Culinary staged a pre-opening protest at The Venetian, the casino's staff demanded police arrest demonstrators, and when officers refused, Sands sued. A federal judge determined the sidewalks outside Strip casinos are public forums, but Sands appealed that ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court before being rebuffed.

Or the time Adelson took offense when an event hosted by Temple Beth Shalom honoring then-Mayor Oscar Goodman was moved from The Venetian to the Four Seasons after Goodman refused to come to the casino because of the union dispute. Adelson confronted Rabbi Felipe Goodman in his office and spoke to him so harshly it brought the rabbi to tears, Rabbi Goodman later told the Review-Journal.

Republicans are fond of excoriating President Barack Obama for not being sufficiently pro-America. But where are their cries of outrage at the online video in which Adelson says it was unfortunate that he wore an American and not Israeli uniform during his military service?

"I am not Israeli," Adelson says. "The uniform that I wore in the military, unfortunately, was not an Israeli uniform. It was an American uniform, although my wife was in the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) and one of my daughters was in the IDF."

What about the irony of Adelson denouncing President Obama for "socialist-style" policies while, according to Forbes magazine, seeing his own personal fortune jump more than any other person in America under Obama's tenure?

"What scares me is the continuation of the socialist-style economy we've been experiencing for almost four years," he said. "That scares me because the redistribution of wealth is the path to more socialism, and to more of the government controlling people's lives."

Of course, Adelson's most lucrative casinos are in Macau, which is territory controlled by actual socialists. It's there that Adelson's company is under investigation for allegedly violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. But now, Adelson has pledged to spend millions electing the man who could appoint the next attorney general, who will oversee that investigation.

All of that to say this: There's no need to reach for salacious, unproven details to suggest Adelson isn't very nice. There's plenty to prove that case.

ProPublica has detailed many of the official probes of Adelson's worldwide crime empire, which, under normal circumstances would make even pikers like Romney and Cantor as wary of accepting Adelson's cash as Boehner was. He made his billions through organized crime, both in Las Vegas and, even more so, in China. He's caught the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Buck McKeon, in a gambling honey trap and although everyone assumes he uses the connection to benefit Israel, who's to say the classified information he gets from McKeon doesn't go straight to China? And late Saturday the Wall Street Journal and other publications started breaking the story that there are more charges pending-- criminal money laundering of immense sums of crime money, spanning the globe.
Federal authorities are investigating whether Las Vegas Sands Corp. [Adelson's company] and several of its executives violated money-laundering laws by failing to alert authorities to millions of dollars transferred to its casinos by two Las Vegas high rollers, according to lawyers and others involved in the matter.

The U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles is examining the casino company's handling of money received several years ago from a Mexican businessman later accused of drug trafficking and a former California executive subsequently convicted of taking illegal kickbacks, according to the people involved.

The probe comes as the casino giant, controlled by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, faces possible legal trouble on another front. U.S. authorities are also investigating whether Sands violated U.S. antibribery laws in its operations in the Chinese territory of Macau.

Senior Justice Department and Treasury officials say they have grown concerned in recent years about the risk that casinos could be used for money laundering and terrorism financing, and that compliance standards in the industry aren't strong enough. The Sands investigation could become an important test case of federal efforts to force casinos to become more like banks in knowing where customers are getting their money.

...The Sands money-laundering probe is focused on whether the casino and some of its executives ignored warning signs about two customers and failed to alert federal authorities about large quantities of money they had deposited, people familiar with the matter said. Both were so-called whales, the kind of big-spending gamblers who are heavily courted by casinos. Both spent the majority of their money at the Venetian casino, which is owned by Sands, according to court records and people familiar with the matter... The case has its roots in a series of money transfers in the mid-2000s by Zhenli Ye Gon, a Chinese-born Mexican national who owned three Mexican pharmaceutical companies and was a Vegas high roller, say several people familiar with the investigation.

In July 2007, Mr. Ye Gon was indicted in the U.S. on charges of trafficking products used to make methamphetamine, four months after Mexican authorities and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration raided his Mexico City home and found more than $205 million in U.S. dollars. He has said he is a legitimate businessman and didn't supply the illegal narcotics trade.

Mr. Ye Gon clearly had been a lucrative casino customer. He told the Associated Press in a 2007 interview that he would bet $150,000 a hand at baccarat during his gambling sprees, and that the Sands-owned Venetian casino gave him a Rolls Royce. He lost more than $125 million at Vegas casinos, including the Venetian, according to a 2007 affidavit by a federal agent who reviewed casino records, although $40 million of that was lent to him by casinos and never paid back.

It isn't clear whether prosecutors suspect Mr. Ye Gon was trying to launder money through the casinos to make it appear clean, or was simply transferring money there for gambling purposes. Either way, if the money was illicit, it could be considered money laundering, according to lawyers involved in the case.

In 2006, Mr. Ye Gon made tens of millions of dollars in transfers to Sands accounts from Mexican "casas de cambio," which are currency-exchange firms that have been the focus of several recent money-laundering probes in the U.S., several people involved in the case said. He transferred a total of around $85 million to casinos owned by Sands and other operators, court filings indicate. Prosecutors have told lawyers representing Sands employees that Mr. Ye Gon's use of Mexican exchange houses to handle such huge transfers was a red flag.

In a court filing, a DEA agent said a woman he described as Mr. Ye Gon's former mistress suggested Mr. Ye Gon used the casinos to launder money. According to the mistress, "the traffickers instructed him to use his bank accounts to send the money to Las Vegas where he could launder it and that the money in Mr. Ye Gon's accounts at the Venetian was drug money," the filing said.

...At the time of Mr. Ye Gon's arrest, another high roller, Ausaf Umar Siddiqui, then a vice president at retail chain Fry's Electronics with a salary of about $200,000, was making big bets at Sands casinos.

Sands received more than $100 million from Mr. Siddiqui through a circuitous route, according to court filings in a later criminal case against him for taking kickbacks from Fry's vendors. Filings in that case indicate that Mr. Siddiqui created a company called PC International LLC to receive kickbacks, then wired more than $100 million to two Sands companies, Venetian Marketing Inc. and WDR LLC, over a three-year period ending in 2008. That company also wired about $20 million to Destron, an MGM Resorts subsidiary, according to the filings.

...Federal prosecutors said that Mr. Siddiqui spent that money, and millions more, at the casinos, which gave Mr. Siddiqui huge lines of credit, free luxury hotel suites and free private-jet rides, according to court filings. Separately, documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal show that Mr. Siddiqui used an internal Sands credit system that allowed high rollers to deposit millions of dollars in accounts in Las Vegas and then access the funds in Macau, or vice versa.

Federal agents arrested Mr. Siddiqui in 2009 on charges of taking illegal kickbacks. He pleaded guilty and now is serving a six-year prison term. Mr. Siddiqui's lawyer declined to comment on the probe.

That same year, the government's case against Mr. Ye Gon was dismissed after prosecutors found problems with evidence and witnesses. He still is being held in custody pending extradition to Mexico, where authorities want to put him on trial for drug trafficking and money laundering, according to court records filed in the extradition case.

Flabbergasted? Think these revelations require a comment or two? I'm dumbstruck that this stinking heap of garbage is buying our country. I'm at a loss for words. So I turned to singer/songwriter Elliot Astur and a song, "Dear America," that Ed Schultz played on his show:

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At 2:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ye Gon's pretty high up in the Sinaloa Cartel. If this was to be publicized more it could mean a lot of people could go down.


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