Corruption, triads on rise in Macau: analyst

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 October, 2007, 12:00am

Corruption is out of control in Macau and triad societies are gaining more power in the world's biggest gambling centre, a former top Hong Kong policeman has warned.

Steve Vickers, who now heads security firm International Risk, told a British Chamber of Commerce breakfast that Beijing was becoming increasingly concerned at the number of officials spending corruptly obtained funds on the territory's gambling tables.

There were also reports of luxury gambling junkets by officials who had not passed through proper immigration channels, he said.

'This is of concern to the mainland government because this money is clearly the proceeds of corruption and money they should not be spending,' Mr Vickers said.

'Post-Olympics, the huge security mechanism which is currently focused on securing the Olympics will move to Macau. I would give it about 15 minutes for the Olympics to finish before there is a big focus on Macau.'

Triad societies were becoming increasingly gentrified and their tentacles of influence spreading deep into Macau's society. Mr Vickers said it was of concern that Hong Kong's powerful and well organised Sun Yee On triad society was focusing more attention on taking a greater cut of the enormous sums of money flooding the former Portuguese colony.

'There has been a nasty rise in triad activity. I worry about these people because they are well funded,' he said. '[Sun Yee On] is very powerful here in Hong Kong. You saw what happened to New World Development where trucks crashed into the entrances in Central Hong Kong in a dispute over a nightclub.'

There had also been a number of unreported murders, often outside Macau's borders, he said. Associates of 14K triad boss Wan Kuok-koi, or 'Broken Tooth', were also being released from prison and looking to re-establish their influence.

Mr Vickers warned that the death of casino tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun could cause further chaos in Macau. 'Macau is held together by tectonic plates ... Stanley Ho, he's not a triad and he never has been, but he has managed to facilitate the stability of these plates which bang together from time to time, without too much drama,' he said.