Crime Boss with Links to Melbourne Money Laundering Arrested in the Netherlands

handcuffs on stacks of money
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko

A reputed crime boss who allegedly laundering money through Crown’s Melbourne casino has been arrested in the Netherlands.

Casino.org reports that Dutch authorities have arrested Tse Chi Lop, a man alleged to be one of the world’s biggest drug kingpins.

Chinese-born Canadian citizen Tse Chi Lop, 56, is reputed to be the leader of “the Company”, a triad super syndicate formed by an alliance of the top five riad gangs.

The Company is known tohave infiltrated casino junket operations and has, in the past, used casinos to launder its ill-gotten gains.

The triad conglomerate, also known as the Sam Gor syndicate, has flooded the illegal drug trade in recent years with synthetic products like methamphetamines and fentanyl.

In 2013, a Hong Kong-based junket operator and money launderer named Roy Moo was convicted in Australia of washing hundreds of millions of the Company’s drug money through the Crown Casino in Melbourne.

Crown Resorts is currently in danger of losing its licence in New South Wales because of historic anti-money laundering violations and regulators say that led to the casino’s exploitation by criminal gangs.

Australia is a huge market for the Company, with the group believed to be responsible for up to 70 per cent of all drugs trafficked into Australia over the past 20 years.

Tse is understood to have been arrested at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport following a request from Australian Federal Police and is expected to be extradited to the country.

In 2000, Tse was sentenced to nine years in prison in the United States for drug trafficking.

The judge showed leniency after the defendant expressed “great sorrow” for his crimes and vowed to go straight and was released in 2006.

Four years later, he appeared on the radar of Australian authorities, which have been tracking him ever since.

In recent years, he is believed to have moved frequently between Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Tse reportedly travels with a bodyguard of Thai kickboxers and gamblers regularly in casinos and once lost US$72 million in one night playing baccarat in Macau, according to Reuters.

The days of high-roller junkets in Australia could be numbered

money counting and laundering
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko

High-roller VIP gambling tours have been identified as being a prime risk for money laundering and terrorism financing, wish most states washing their hands of regulating casino junkets.

News.com.au reported in November that Queensland is the only state authority to actively licence junkets, as both Victoria and Western Australia ditched the approval processes more than 10 years ago.

The controversial tours attract wealthy mainland Chinese gamers to Australian casinos for exclusive events.

Most states have now placed responsibility on individual casinos to ensure third-party junkets are compliant with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws.

The lack of oversight follows recent claims against Crown Resorts for allegedly allowing junket operators to launder money through its Melbourne and Perth casinos.

The allegations have raised doubts with the New South Wales regulator as to whether Crown is fit to hold a gaming licence for its new $2.2 billion Sydney Barangaroo venue.

A 2017 AUSTRAC report also flagged a lack of consistency by state gaming regulators when it came to the oversight of junkets.

“AUSTRAC found that there is an inconsistency between the states and territories in relation to the extension of the junket oversight they undertake,” AUSTRAC said.

“There is a limited extent which state-based regulation could be said to mitigate the gaps in AUSTRAC’s regulation of junkets.”

The financial crimes watchdog also noted some gaming regulators were planning to relinquish junket due diligence to independent casinos due to “budget pressures”.

In 2004, the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation made legislative changes removing the licence approval for junkets and placed the responsibility on the casino.

“Probity requirements for junket operators became the responsibility of the casino operator,” a VCGLR spokeswoman said.

“Currently, the Victorian Casino Control Act does not contain a licensing regimen for junket operators.”

William Brown

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