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Tax-Dodging Billionaire Tied to Star Casino
The case of Chinese billionaire Huang Xiangmo has gotten more complicated and intriguing.
It started with the Australian Taxation Office wanting its $140 million in taxes, but Xiangmo seemed to have absconded. Now, it seems that he may have withdrawn $100,000 from a Star Casino-linked junket account to pay off politicians before doing so.
The Star is fully cooperating with the investigation. Huang, on the other hand, has no plans to return to Australia or respond to any of the allegations against him.
Who is Huang?
Huang Xiangmo is a Chinese-born businessman who moved to Australia in 2011. He is the CEO of Yuhu Group, which is based in Sydney and is classified as a property development company.
While much of his financial success is due to his businesses, Huang gained notoriety in Australia for his political donations. It is widely believed that he has donated approximately $3 million to several political parties.
When many began to suspect that Huang was trying to influence lawmakers on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party, he lost benefits. More specifically, the Australian government cancelled his permanent residency and denied his application for Australian citizenship. Finally, when Huang left earlier this year, he was denied the ability to return.
Wanted for Millions
According to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), Huang owes $140 million in taxes.
An investigation by the ATO determined that Huang had been maneuvering his finances to avoid creditors and “grossly” understating his income to avoid taxes. In addition, he is believed to have funneled quite a bit of money to offshore accounts.
When Huang’s wife and son recently left Australia, the ATO determined that they had no intention of returning to Australia or settling any outstanding debts.
That led the ATO to send garnishment notices to casinos. Huang was known to keep money in casino accounts, as he was a high-stakes gambler. The Star in Sydney and the Gold Coast, Treasury Casino in Brisbane, and Crown Casino in Melbourne all received notices from the ATO.
Enter the ICAC
The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) began investigating Huang’s gaming records, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. It was a part of a larger inquiry into political donations connected to Huang.
With documents as proof, the ICAC was able to show that a business manager at Huang’s Yuhu company withdrew $100,000 in cash from a gambling account at the Star Casino in Sydney in April 2015. The Star flagged the transaction as “suspicious.” The car in which the man departed the casino belonged to Yuhu Investment Holdings.
Six days later, the New South Wales Labor Party deposited a cash donation of $100,000.
This matches with allegations that NSW Labor Party figures, including former General Secretary Jamie Clements, took that money from Huang. They also determined that the way the money was bundled, in bundles of $100 notes in white straps, matched the cash given to Clements.
This violated an NSW ban on political donations from property developers.
Cash in a Bag
According to the ICAC, the person who withdrew the cash from the Star Casino took it to Huang, who then put the cash in a plastic Aldi grocery bag. Four days after the casino withdrawal, Huang gave it to Clements.
Clements and Huang denied links between the April 2015 transactions.
Documents from the group investigations manager at the Star Casino revealed that the money in the account was a part of a $5 million gambling junket at the Star. They started the account on the exact date of the $100,000 withdrawal.
Further, the man who withdrew the money was Wun Chi Wong, also known as Gary Wong, the manager of Yuhu Group but also the operator of the junket.
Cooperation Except from Huang
Wong responded to a message from the ICAC with an email that he was “currently oversea of Australia and sorry … I couldn’t accept the invitations” to attend the inquiry.
Clements admitted that he met with Huang at the political party’s office and that Huang may have given him a gift, but he asserted it would have only been wine. He “was not in a position to categorically deny the possibility that they had a bag which included a gift for me at that meeting.”
This crosses a story that Clements had previously told about receiving a wine box at that meeting. That wine box reportedly contained $35,000 with which to pay his personal legal bills.
The Star Casino has been cooperative with the ICAC, which reportedly garnered significant evidence that Huang influenced the NSW Labor Party via illegal donations.
The ICAC is going to deliver a more detailed report in the coming months, showing more proof of its assertions. Clements may need to solidify his story before the ICAC reveals the rest of the story.