A discreet consulting exercise in Macao, Hong Kong and Beijing by a private investigator in 2010 uncovered that US intelligence may have used Macau casinos owned by an American tycoon to set a trap for Chinese functionaries who gamble with public money, in order to blackmail and recruit them.
This highly confidential report published by The Guardian exposing the CIA operation in Macau remained secret until it was uncovered by the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California, Berkeley.
Former head of the Sands Macau casinos Steven Jacobs has sued Sands China and Las Vegas Sands Corp. over a wrongful termination case. This confidential document dated June 25, 2010, was presented by Sands China Limited, the Macau branch of the gambling empire of Las Vegas tycoon Sheldon Adelson, as part of this ongoing lawsuit.
The report reveals how CIA and FBI operatives were using Macau casinos belonging to gambling billionaire and Republican Party funder Adelson to entrap and blackmail Chinese officials.
“A reliable source has reported that central Chinese government officials firmly believe that Sands has permitted CIA/FBI agents to operate from within its facilities. These agents apparently ‘monitor mainland government officials’ who gamble in the casinos,” the report said.
The report says: “According to China’s internal Central Government agency, some US$2 billion is annually gambled away by serving Chinese government officials visiting Macao.”
Apparently Chinese authorities were concerned about those officials who lost a lot while gambling and were running up debts, as these officials become an easy target of pressure from foreign intelligence. Both the Macau and mainland Chinese authorities are taking up measures to reduce the dependency of this former colony’s economy on gambling.
According to their “well-placed” sources the report cites “that several PRC (Peoples Republic of China) government bodies have reported ‘evidence’ of ‘US agents’, operating from Sands, ‘luring’ and entrapping mainland government officials, involved in gaming, to force them to cooperate with US government interests,”.
“There is a widely held perception amongst officials that Sands serves the interests of the US government in Macau,” the report concluded.
Among the “well-placed” sources the report mentions three officials from the government agency responsible for overseeing Macau and Hong Kong, two officials from the Chinese foreign ministry and a powerful businessman with close ties in the Chinese capital.
Seeing it as an American attempt to interfere in the politics of the territory Beijing has refused US to open a consulate in Macau.
“There was, within Chinese government circles, a suspicion that the US would become more involved in local Macau politics if it were granted a diplomatic presence in the [region]. According to our other sources, some of the PRC (Peoples Republic of China) officials involved strongly suspected that Sands was behind the US diplomatic initiative,” the report said.
Such cases are not unheard of India as well. Recently a construction management firm Louis Berger was charged with bribing Indian officials several crores of rupees to win two major water development projects in Goa and Guwahati.
As reported by The Hindu, “The bribery of $976,630 for a Goa project included payments to a Minister, the details of which have not been disclosed by the Department of Justice.”
To resolve charges that it bribed officials in India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Kuwait to secure government construction management contracts, the company agreed to pay $17.1 million criminal fine.
As the case is developing Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar said that a code word related to engineering was used as a camouflage for bribery demands.
“In this investigation, a word which came to my attention was ‘drawings’. Four drawings, six drawings. Drawings (is an) engineering technical term, which is why when you say drawing no one would doubt,” Parsekar said, adding that the investigators have identified several SMSs, where the word has been used.
This same company Louis Berger, the American engineering firm hired to repair the Kajaki Dam in Afghanistan paid $65 million settlement after a whistle-blower exposed systematic overbilling of USAID. The whistle-blower said that he was asked to lie and misrepresent financial data to the Pentagon’s Defense Contract Audit Agency.
However there are many questions that arise from the study of such cases.
Are these isolated random cases? How many multinational companies in the recent past have been caught bribing government officials? Is there any pattern to this method? Why does it keep repeating again and again? Are these companies functioning on their own, or are they operating in conjunction with foreign government interests as we have seen in the case of Sands Macau? The Chinese on their part have refused the US to open up their consulate in Macau, being concerned about foreign meddling in the region’s politics and economy. What should be the Indian Government’s response to such acts?
GreatGameIndia News Analysis