Linong Ma, a Chinese millionaire, is suing a pair of junket operators, as well as SkyCity Adelaide. According to the lawsuit, junketers Xiongming Xie and his associate, Zhuangqian Fang, committed fraud to the tune of A$4.84 million. Furthermore, Ma claims that Xie is tied to organized crime.

SkyCity Adelaide, meanwhile, stands accused of both breach of trust and negligence. Coming on the heels of all the Crown Resorts controversy, this isn’t the best time for a casino to be hit with negative publicity.

For those who’ve been living under a rock, I’m talking about the possibility that Crown will lose their NSW gambling license. Why? Because they admitted to a high degree of negligence, even allowing Chinese triad members to launder money in Crown’s VIP rooms.

But enough about Crown. Let’s sort out SkyCity Adelaide’s own particular brand of misery.

How Junket Gambling Works

Casinos traditionally pay a monthly commission to junkets, just as long as their high rollers clients generate a certain amount of profit for the house. Once these punters have returned to China, the junket and the casino settle their affairs.

Meanwhile, Chinese VIPs use bank transfers to pay money to junkets before their trip. These funds are then converted into “rolling chips,” which are non-negotiable but accepted at the VIP rooms of a specific casino.

The Chinese government frowns on large sums of money being moved out of their country. However, the practice outlined above allows high rollers to avoid any bureaucratic entanglements.

The Players

So what happened to provoke Mr. Ma into filing a lawsuit? Well, here’s what we’ve learned so far:

Ma visited SkyCity Adelaide on May 21st, 2019. He intended to gamble as part of a junket organized by Zhuangqian Fang. However, he later came to believe that the Sydney-based Xie was running the show, using Fang’s junket license to cover his tracks.

Ms. Goh accompanied Ma on his junket. According to the lawsuit, she was “employed or engaged by Mr. Xie as an escort or hostess for high-rollers.” A Ms. Zhang was also in attendance, and she appeared to be employed by Xie, as well.

Playing Baccarat

Ma seems to have similar tastes as James Bond, as the former withdrew $400,000 in chips to play baccarat. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out too well, and he lost $370,000 in short order.

The following day, he armed himself with an additional $600,000. Things started looking up for Mr. Ma, and it wasn’t long before he was on a full-blown hot streak. By the time he was finished, he’d accumulated $5,048,500 on top of his stake.

So far, so good. However, things were about to take a turn for the worse.

SkyCity Shakedown

At this point, Ma wanted to cash out his chips. However, one of his companions, Ms. Goh, told him this couldn’t be done until the following Monday. Ma got into a heated exchange with his escorts, and according to the lawsuit they were “behaving in a furtive and suspicious manner.”

Ma was due in Hong Kong to attend his son’s graduation, so he had the chips placed in a SkyCity safety deposit box. According to Ma, he was told that only he would have access to the contents.

Ma planned to return in June and collect his chips, as he had numerous investments in Adelaide. This never came to pass, though, as most of Ma’s winnings were transferred by SkyCity on May 29th.

Based on the lawsuit, the beneficiary was none other than Xiongming Xie. Not surprisingly, this individual has made no attempt to pay back Mr. Ma his winnings.

Who the Heck is Xiongming Xie?

So who is the shadowy figure known as Xiongming Xie? Is he a hard-working businessman, an Asian version of Professor Moriarty, so something in between?

Xiongming Xie, who is accused of being connected to organized crime.

At the moment, here’s what we know about the man:

  • According to the lawsuit, Xie has “substantial gambling debts.”
  • He’s a known associate of junket operator Tom “Mr. Chinatown” Zhou, who is currently wanted by INTERPOL.
  • According to the lawsuit, he’s a “dangerous and violent criminal,” as well as being barred from every casino in Australia.
  • In 2016, assassins tried to kill him outside his Sydney home. He suffered stab wounds, but managed to survive.
  • In 2019, he faced criminal charges in Australia after reportedly threatening a man with a knife while demanding a transfer of $10 million in property.
  • According to the lawsuit, he has “links with Asian Triad criminal gangs.”

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