No Discussion:Wynn Says It Knows of No Investigation by Federal Authorities

November 27, 2014
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Wynn Resorts officials said this week that they are aware of no federal investigation into money laundering by customers of its casinos, and believe that there is no threat to the Everett casino license due to allegations of the investigation.

“We are not aware of any investigation of the company and no agency has notified the company that it is under any investigation,” said Michael Weaver, senior vice president of marketing.

It also was pointed out that the company has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

The Wall Street Journal first reported last Thursday that several federal agencies, including the U.S. Attorneys in Las Vegas and Manhattan, were looking into whether the company violated money-laundering laws.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) said on Monday it had not yet set any agenda for its next public meeting. Therefore, it was uncertain if the matter would be discussed publicly at the next MGC meeting. However, it did indicate that its Investigations and Enforcement Bureau (IEB) would be looking into the matter.

“Our Investigations and Enforcement Bureau will conduct a comprehensive and careful review of this matter,” read a statement from the MGC. “Our investigators will also continue to closely monitor any potential developments. The suitability of our licensees is a constant and ongoing part of our process. The Commission has very broad authority under the statute to take any actions deemed appropriate. Our investigators will make a series of inquiries into the recent news reports and will brief the Commission when it is appropriate to do so.”

According to press accounts, Wynn would be the third major casino operator in the United States to fall under such an alleged investigation into money laundering. It comes after federal authorities have tightened up their efforts to require detailed reports from casinos about suspicious transactions and big-money transactions to prevent international criminals from using casinos as a way to transfer money across borders. The federal government has asked casino operators to, in a way, think of themselves as financial institutions when it comes to such regulations and reporting requirements.

In the Wall Street Journal report, it was detailed that an outside attorney for Wynn had received a letter from the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) criminal investigation division last August – prior to the granting of the Massachusetts license.

The letter is reported to have asked for a listing of its biggest customers from 2011 to 2013. It asked for the top 100 patrons from North America and the top 50 patrons from Asia, Europe and Latin America.

The purpose was to check Wynn’s safeguards against money laundering via the use of its casinos.

Most important to the matter, however, was the fact that Caesar’s Entertainment had been under a similar situation in 2013. That investigation – which did result in an indictment – was one of several reasons they were deemed unsuitable by the MGC in October 2013.

The investigation of Caesar’s is ongoing at this time.

In August 2013, Las Vegas Sands – the world’s largest casino operator – agreed to accept the federal government’s assertion that it had failed to report potentially improper financial activity by one of its customers. That resulted in them paying a fine of $47 million, which ended the criminal investigation.

The federal government – specifically the U.S. Department of Justice – has had no official comment on the Wynn Resorts matter.