Billionaire Sheldon Adelson, owner of the Venetian and Palazzo hotel-casinos in Las Vegas, has been a bitter political enemy of President Obama, sinking millions into efforts to unseat him.
But when Obama's Department of Justice had Adelson's casinos busted for taking millions in deposits from a suspected drug trafficker, the properties were let off the hook. The U.S. Attorney's Office in L.A. announced today that Adelson's parent company, Las Vegas Sands Corp., will only have to hand over the questionable deposits for this saga to be over:
That's $47 million worth of shady money, authorities say. But it's also pocket change to Adelson. (He reportedly spent more than $100 million backing Republican candidates during the 2012 election).
Here's what feds say happened:
From 2005 to 2007, Zhenli Ye Gon, the biggest all-cash gambler at Adelson's Venetian and Palazzo, wired millions from Mexico to the casinos and even told officials at the venues that he'd rather send the money in increments so as to avoid government scrutiny.
The man who lived in Mexico City had not yet been raided by feds. That would happen in March, 2007, when authorities say they $207 million from his pad — the largest cash seizure by American law enforcement.
But still, feds say, the casinos should have known something was up: The law requires casinos to report suspicious activity when it comes to large cash transactions.
Ye Gon wired $45 million during that time and deposited $13 million in cashiers checks, feds say.
The Sands states this:
… In hindsight … the Venetian-Palazzo failed to fully appreciate the suspicious nature of the information or lack thereof pertaining to Ye Gon.
Prosecutors say the company is off the hook for potential indictments related to the case.
Anthony Williams, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration in L.A:
Millions of dollars earned from illegal drug trafficking were transferred through casino accounts in a complex scheme designed to thwart law enforcement detection. The DEA will continue to work with our partners to pursue all means to deny criminals the profits they work so hard to conceal.
Ye Gon was indicted on drug charges in Washington, D.C., but the case was dismissed in 2009. However, Mexican officials now want to have a word with him and are seeking to extradite him back to that nation to face a drug trafficking case.