he companies involved offered no comment, and the media reports gave no further details. Crown Macau has captured about 12 % of Macau’s thriving gambling industry. The City of Dreams is a vast gambling, hotel and entertainment resort due to open in coming months. Its development on Macau’s Cotai Strip has been plagued by controversy.
The site was initially granted to the Macau University of Science and Technology, but later allocated for casino use. Construction began before formal rezoning procedures had been completed and two years before it had been officially gazetted, reports from Hong Kong said.
Both casinos are 38 % owned by Packer’s Crown in a joint venture with Melco, an entity controlled by Lawrence Ho, the son of the Macau gambling doyen Stanley Ho. Crown’s investor relations manager, Geoff Kleemann, said any inquiries should be directed to Melco Crown Entertainment in Hong Kong.
"They are the ones that are handling all that and are aware of what is happening and not happening," Kleemann said. A spokeswoman in Hong for Melco Crown Entertainment, Maggie Ma, said last night: "This is a current court case; we can’t comment."
A spokeswoman for Melco in Hong Kong declined to give her name and directed queries to Melco’s construction department in Macau, where a spokeswoman also declined to make a statement. In January last year Ao was jailed for 27 years on 57 counts of bribe-taking, money laundering and other charges.
The South China Morning Post reported yesterday that the latest Ao trial, relating to 28 new charges of bribe-taking, money laundering and abuse of public power, began in the Macau Court of Final Appeal on Wednesday. The charges centre on 19 land deals, public works projects and private development projects.
The Post reported: "Reading from an indictment, Justice Sam said Ao had abused his power to benefit from land sales and bids for public works projects. Justice Sam mentioned the “construction and development” of City of Dreams as one of the suspect projects.
"Prosecutors also listed the development of the casino hotel Crown Macau as a suspect project involving bribe-taking and money laundering." Chinese-language publications carried similar reports.