By Wayne Parry
The Associated Press
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Asian casino magnate Stanley Ho denied Thursday that he has ties to Chinese organized crime gangs.
His denial via a spokeswoman came a day after New Jersey gambling regulators released a report that accused Ho of letting gangs operate and prosper inside his casinos.
MGM Mirage decided to sell its 50 percent interest in Atlantic City’s top casino after the state forced it to choose between New Jersey and the lucrative Chinese gambling market.
MGM Mirage has a partnership with Ho’s daughter in a Macau casino, and New Jersey casino law requires companies seeking gambling licenses to prove they have no associations with “notorious or unsavory persons.”
MGM Mirage says it disagrees with the New Jersey gaming enforcement division, and says it has “a spotless operating record at MGM Grand Macau.”
A spokeswoman for Ho said Thursday he denies having any links to Chinese gangs, called triads.
Janet Wong said the elder Ho had not seen the report, and considers it a matter to be dealt with by MGM Mirage and casino regulators.
“But his position on the record is clear that there is absolutely no foundation in any suggestion that he is associated with organized crime or triads,” Wong said in an e-mail.
Pansy Ho declined comment Thursday through a spokeswoman.
MGM Mirage said Thursday the report shows no wrongdoing on the part of Pansy Ho.
“Stanley Ho was not our partner. He had no role in the (joint venture),” said spokesman Alan Feldman. “The report contained no such allegations about our partner, Pansy Ho.”
The chain of events that led MGM Mirage to agree to exit the second-largest U.S. gambling market began last May when the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement first told MGM Mirage that Pansy Ho was an “unsuitable” business partner who remains dependent on her father for money and power.
“We entered into the agreement because the DGE gave us one of two choices: either disassociate with Pansy or leave New Jersey,” Feldman said. “We made the decision that we thought was in the best interests of our company and its shareholders.”
The deal approved Wednesday by the state Casino Control Commission places MGM Mirage’s share in the Borgata into a divestment trust. It must be sold within 30 months.
The report by the gaming enforcement division, which was completed in May but not publicly released until Wednesday, cited numerous examples of what it considers to be ties between Stanley Ho and criminal gangs. They include:
— A 1988 report by the U.S. Department of Justice that “noted Stanley Ho’s associations with Asian organized crime.”
— A 1992 United States Senate committee investigation that found that Stanley Ho associated with individuals and businesses who were organized crime members;
— A March 2003 e-mail from a private investigation firm hired by MGM Mirage that found that “Stanley Ho was linked closely to the two major triads operating in Macau, the 14K and Sun Yee On.” The same report alleged Stanley Ho has “strong ties” to North Korea, is partners in a casino there, and told Russian officials in January 2003 that he could “facilitate the movement of Saddam Hussein, his family and other senior Iraqi leaders to North Korea.”
— A 2007 report from the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs noting “Stanley Ho’s association with the organized crime groups that operate in his casinos’ VIP rooms.
Associated Press Writer Jeremiah Marquez in Hong Kong contributed to this story.