At first, the men had been ordered to break the arms and legs of a dealer at Sands Macau suspected of helping a patron cheat millions of dollars from the business. Later, a call went out to murder the dealer, court records show. But then one of the gangsters balked and reported the plans to authorities.
The plot's mastermind, according to testimony in previously undisclosed court transcripts obtained by Reuters, was Cheung Chi-tai. At trial a witness identified Cheung as a leader of the Wo Hop To -- one of the organized crime groups in the region known as triads.
Cheung was not just named as a triad member but also, according to a regular casino patron testifying in the trial, "the person in charge" of one of the VIP rooms at the Sands Macau, the first of three casinos run here by Las Vegas Sands. In addition, Cheung has been a major investor in the Neptune Group, a publicly traded company involved in casino junkets -- the middlemen who bring wealthy clients to Macau's gambling halls. Documents show that his investment allowed him a share in the profits from a VIP gambling room at the casino.
An examination of Hong Kong court records, U.S. depositions from the former president of Sands, and interviews with law enforcement and security officials in both the U.S. and Macau, reveals a connection between Las Vegas Sands and Cheung -- ties that could potentially put Sands in violation of Nevada gaming laws.
The Reuters investigation is a collaboration with the Investigative Reporting Program at University of California, Berkeley.
Read also Reuters report targets Sands' ties in Macau by Las Vegas Review Journal