Sheldon Adelson is a casino mogul with gamblings operations in both in the U.S. and abroad. He put millions into Newt Gingrich’s presidential primary campaign before it imploded; he’s socked $5 million in Rep. Eric Cantor’s Young Guns PAC (which goes to other congressional Republicans and helps Cantor keep his leadership role).
All told, Adelson has socked $54 million into this year’s elections, spending all of it on Republicans. He is the biggest single-year campaign contributor in the history of America. And a lot of the money has been spent to see that Mitt Romney wins the White House. He even accompanied Romney on the presidential contender’s fund-raising mission to Israel.
One of the questions hanging out there for awhile has been, why has Adelson gotten so involved this year? Now we have an answer that makes sense.
It’s likely because the U.S. Justice Department has been going after Adelson’s company, Las Vegas Sands Corp. for apparent violations involving money laundering through his casinos by two foreigners to the tune of $185 million. One is a convicted criminal and the other is shady, too.
One of alleged launderers is Chinese-born Mexican businessman Zhenil Ye Gon, who at one time was charged as a high level meth trafficker. Those charges were later dropped. In the middle of the last decade, he transferred about $85 million into casinos owned by Las Vagas Sands.
The other guy is Ausaf Umar Siddiqui, a former executive at Fry’s Electronics Inc., a big-box electronics retailer headquartered in California. Siddiqui is believed to have illegally transferred $100 million through Las Vegas Sands Corp. casinos. Siddiqui is now in prison after pleading guilty in 2009 to taking kickbacks.
From the Associated Press:
. . .The Justice Department’s investigation centers on whether Las Vegas Sands broke federal law by failing to report money transfers by [Ye Gon] and [Siddiqui].
Representatives for the Justice Department and the company held settlement talks as recently as last Thursday, but have yet to reach an agreement, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday, citing unidentified people familiar with the case.
Prosecutors could compel the company to pay $100 million or more in penalties, as well as file criminal charges against at least one Sands executive, according to the Journal’s report.
I’ll give you three guesses as to the name of that executive!
If Romney wins the Nov. 6 election, it’ll be interesting to see how this case turns out. Plenty of people will be watching.