The International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 501 — which represents over 2,000 members working in Las Vegas casinos— submitted a public record request regarding the land transaction involving Genting Group and the current head of the Treasure Island Resort World project development, Ao Mio Leong, to the Land and Urban Construction Bureau (DSSCU). According to corporate filings, Mio Leong is one of a four-person director group for local real estate firm Easyway Investment Company Limited, which, according to the union, is linked to triads.
The international union has been researching the land transaction in question as part of a comprehensive review of the Malaysian-headquartered Genting Group’s operations, launched as part of a separate inquiry into alleged labor violations said to have been committed by Genting’s Resorts World Las Vegas.
According to the Macau Daily Times, in a letter to the government, the Las Vegas-based trade union said that dating back to 2007, Genting Hong Kong (then called Star Cruises) and Genting International acquired a 75% interest in a Macau-based entity called Treasure Island Entertainment Complex Limited, which owned a parcel of land on the Macau peninsula situated along Praca Ferreira do Amaral. The resort is expected to open in December 2022 with its offerings revealed this year, after delays connected to the pandemic and funding issues.
The Genting venture intended to develop a hotel on the land and had already entered into an agreement with major gaming operator Sociedade de Jogos de Macau (SJM) to operate a casino in the complex. However, because Genting Hong Kong’s hotel-casino development in Macau remained half-built due to the pandemic, the company sought to shed assets.
Genting Hong Kong announced the 50% disposal of its interest in the Treasure Island Entertainment Complex development, stating that developer Ao Mio Leong had agreed to purchase the stake for HKD750 million ($95.4 million), Macau Daily Times reports.
In January 2021, Genting Hong Kong issued a disclosure filing acknowledging the "likelihood" that Ao would exercise share options to acquire Genting’s remaining 50% stake in the hotel development, leaving Genting fully divested. "However, to date, there has been no public disclosure confirming that Ms. Ao has acquired Genting’s remaining 50% interest. It is unclear where the matter stands in light of Genting Hong Kong’s ongoing liquidation," the letter read.
"Genting’s nearly USD 100 million transaction with Ms. Ao and their extended joint business interest in Macau should raise alarm [bells] for Macau regulators, including the DSSCU. Ao Mio Leong has an active association with a prominent Macau triad family," the group added.
Therefore, Local 501 "feels it necessary" to investigate Genting’s nearly USD100 million deal (and potentially ongoing partnership) with Ao Mio Leong, because the government has not scrutinized this transaction, and because Genting’s international operations "pose a systemic risk" to Local 501’s membership.
In May, the US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a complaint against Resorts World Las Vegas, alleging that company management committed numerous violations of federal labor law in an effort to dissuade over 100 facilities maintenance workers and gaming technicians from forming a union with International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 501.
The union set a 10-business-day deadline for the government to respond to its public records request, noting that it had previously issued a 200-page land file for the Wynn Macau property in 2015.
It should be noted that in February this year, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 501 called for a coordinated U.S. federal investigation into Macau's largest gambling junket operator SunCity Group and its historical relationships with U.S. gaming companies.
In separate letters to the U.S. Justice Department, the U.S. Secretary of State, the U.S. Treasury Department, the White House National Security Council and the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Local 501 pointed out "alarming public reports" on SunCity Group and its owner Alvin Chau Cheok Wa, who had recently been arrested by Chinese authorities for alleged money laundering.