High roller drops chip theft case against billionaire
A punter from Sydney’s Star casino has dropped a high-profile lawsuit against a casino high-roller, a punter identified as being one of the organiser’s of Crown Resorts’ controversial junket program.
The Daily Telegraph reports millionaire Xiongming Xie has links to controversial Chinese billionaire and property developer Huang Xiangmo, the communist-aligned political donor expelled from Australia by the federal government as an alleged “agent of influence”.
Xie was one of the organisers of Crown Casino’s contentious high-roller Chinese junkets, the Supreme COurt heard.
The 41-year-old was being sued in civil court by Star punter Qiyun ZHou over an alleged $3.1 million loan made in gambling chips at the casino in 2016.
But on Wednesday, Justice James Stevenson dismissed the proceedings because Mr Zhou had not been actively involved in the case since May and “now appears to be in Vanuatu.”
The court heard that in September, Mr Zhou’s solicitor revealed he had not been able to contact his client “for a long time”, and he may have returned to China.
“The last place that Mr Zhou was known to be was Vanuatu…the other place that he is located potentially is Wuhan city,” Xie’s barrister Margaret Pringle said.
Justice Stevenson ordered Mr ZHou to pay Xie’s legal costs, with Ms Pringle calculating his bills to be around $80,000.
The judge also set aside a freezing order preventing Xie from dealing with his shares and a stunning Sydney waterfront mansion.
Xie had already sold the luxury Hunters Hill home in April but barely made a profit, scoring $800,000 less than the initial $48.85 million asking price.
The gambler currently faces criminal charges involving an unrelated matter.
Police allege he threatened a man at knifepoint in a Haymarket apartment and demanded the transfer of a $10 million property.
Xie was granted $500,000 bail in January after prosecutors downgraded the original charges, and is due to face Downing Centre Local Court later this month.
The Epping man denies the allegations and will be “defending them vigorously”, his lawyers say.
XIe survived a stabbing attack in June 2016 when he and his driver were set upon by two unknown Asian men. He was seriously wounded and spent several weeks in hospital.
Justice Stevenson said Xie helped Mr Zhou organise Australian casino junkets for wealthy Chinese nationals, and the two gamblers “were active in their own right.”
Xie has been identified in media reports as a major casino player who wagered more than $100 million.
He was reportedly paid by Crown a percentage of the turnover of Asian high rollers he lured to Australia, earning hundreds of thousands of dollars between 2013 and 2017.
The court heard Xie received $1.5 million in casino chops from Zhou, a fellow Crown high-roller junket agent.
The organised crime boss was recently arrested overseas and extradited to China for suspected money laundering and corruption.
Junket partner causes concern among Crown staff
Employees working for Crown Resorts in Macau said they feared one of the casino’s junket partners, who was linked to a drug syndicate.
The Brisbane Times reported in September that Crown’s chief legal officer Joshua Preston told the ongoing New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority’s inquiry that Crown appears to have been linked to some “unsavoury characters” through its partnership with Ng Chi Un, who operated the “Hot Pot junket” until 2015.
The government inquiry is examining Crown’s fitness to hold a casino licence in the state.
Reports reveal the Hot Pot junket was linked to an international drug trafficking syndicate, known as The Company, and arranged for members of the gang to visit Crown’s Perth Casino in 2015.
When they did, they turned over $800 million in the course of a few days.
Crown rejected the reports as being “unsubstantiated” and part of a “deceitful campaign” against the company.
Mr Preston told the inquiry he made inquiries in the past month into Mr Ng and what a senior member of Crown’s international VIP division, Ari Lee, meant when he described Mr Ng in a 2015 email as a “very influential character” in Macau, regarding its “underground network.”
Mr Preston said Mr Lee did not explain what the “underground network” was, but did tell him that Crown staff in Macau raised concerns about Mr Ng and his associates because they may have been “unsavoury types”.
“They had concerns that if a cheque was going to be banked and if it bounced, they would be potentially concerned about some harassment,” Mr Preston said.