- Macau developer being held without bail in Manhattan jail
- Sheldon Adelson told Nevada state judge he didn't know Ng
A Macau billionaire now jailed in New York failed to comply last year with a request from U.S. prosecutors that he answer questions as part of an overseas bribery investigation, according to court papers and a person familiar with the probe.
Ng Lap Seng, 68, is being held in a Manhattan federal jail after his Sept. 19 arrest on charges that he brought $4.5 million into the U.S. and lied about its purpose to authorities. As part of a complaint detailing the allegations against Ng, an FBI agent said Ng left the U.S. in July 2014 without responding to a grand jury subpoena in an “unrelated investigation.”
That investigation, based out of Nevada, focused on allegations of foreign bribes being paid, according to a person familiar with matter who declined to be named because it wasn’t public. Natalie Collins, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden in Las Vegas, declined to comment. It’s unclear who the government was targeting or whether the 2014 investigation is continuing.
Ng’s name surfaced this year as part of a lawsuit alleging that Sheldon Adelson, the 82-year-old billionaire founder and chairman of Las Vegas Sands Corp., ordered secret investigations into the business and financial affairs of Macau government officials and insisted on retaining a Macau lawyer who exposed the company to violations of U.S. anti-bribery law. The suit was filed by the former chief executive officer of the company’s Macau unit.
In testimony at a May hearing in Las Vegas, Adelson denied knowing Ng and said he hadn’t authorized Ng to deliver a message from Adelson to government officials in China.
“I know of nobody in our company that dealt or was dealing with this Ng Lap Seng,” Adelson said.
Adelson also denied that Ng was connected to an alleged $300 million-bribe request to his Sands China Ltd. casino operation in the former Portuguese colony. The payment, according to Adelson’s testimony, was to facilitate the company getting long-delayed approval to sell condos at its Four Seasons property and to settle claims by a Taiwanese businessman.
Adelson testified that the company didn’t pay the requested bribe and that he didn’t know who the intended recipient was.
Former Sands China Ltd. CEO Steven Jacobs alleged he was fired after he had conflicts with Adelson, including fights over what he said were illegal demands that secret investigations be performed of Macau government officials for information that could be used as leverage to thwart adverse regulation.
According to court filings by Jacobs, Sands China conducted a background investigation of Ng.
Following Jacobs’s allegations, the U.S. Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission opened investigations into whether Adelson’s company violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. That law prohibits companies with U.S. operations and their intermediaries from making improper payments to foreign officials to win or retain business.
Ron Reese, a spokesman for Sands, declined to comment on whether the Ng subpoena was related to the government’s investigation of the company.
Ng, who has a net worth of about $1.8 billion, has been held without bail at a federal jail in lower Manhattan since he was arrested as he was about the leave the U.S. on his private jet on Sept. 19. In that case, prosecutors said they also have evidence that Ng wired at least $19 million to U.S. bank accounts and individuals.
At a bail hearing in Manhattan federal court on Sept. 21, Tung said Ng didn’t understand the purpose of the subpoena, was unaware of the investigation and didn’t speak English. A prosecutor cited the unanswered subpoena without providing specifics as part of her request that Ng be held without bail.
“I think he was not aware of this at all,” Tung told a judge.
Ng’s assistant, Kevin Yin, was also arrested Sept. 19 on the same charges and is being held on a $1 million bond. His lawyer said Yin denies wrongdoing.