Sands China casino executive quits after four months

Former Hong Kong MTR finance director the latest high-profile Macau departure

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 04 February, 2017, 11:06pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 04 February, 2017, 11:36pm

A key executive at one of Macau’s biggest casino operators has resigned after just four months in the job.

The shock departure of Sands China chief financial ­officer Stephen Law Cheuk-kin – who quit as finance director of Hong Kong’s MTR Corporation to take up the casino job in September last year – is the latest of a number of high-level corporate exits in the Macau gaming industry in ­recent months.

A spokeswoman for Hong Kong Stock Exchange-listed Sands China confirmed Law’s resignation but declined to reveal the reasons behind his departure.

“Sands China Ltd confirms that Stephen Law resigned as the company’s chief financial officer in January 2017,” the spokeswoman said after initially telling the Sunday Morning Post: “Sands China Ltd does not comment on the movement of personnel.” The Hong Kong-listed company owns The Venetian Macao, Sands Macao, The Plaza Macao, Sands Cotai Central and The Parisian Macao. It also owns the Cotai Arena and Cotai Expo.

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Law, 53, joined Sands China on September 29 last year after deciding not to renew his contract with the MTR Corp, which he joined in 2013. He played a key role in the Express Rail Link project between Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Guangzhou.

His resignation came days after – but is not known to be connected to – an agreement made by Sands China’s parent company, Las Vegas Sands Corporation,

to pay a fine just short of US$7 million to resolve a United States federal investigation into its activities in mainland China and Macau.

The US Department of Justice announced on January 19 that Sands had agreed to pay $6.96 million to resolve an ­investigation into violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in its business transactions in China and Macau. The act prohibits US companies from bribing foreign officials in order to win business concessions.

As part of a non-prosecution agreement in the case, Sands China also admitted that some of its executives “knowingly and willfully” failed to impose the necessary controls in its dealings with the consultant.

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Also last month, Macau casino junket investor Neptune Group Ltd announced the resignation of Stephen Chan Shiu-wong as an executive director, chief financial officer and company secretary.

Chan, who joined the Hong Kong Stock Exchange-listed group in April 2005, left to pursue a different career path, the company said.

The number of junket operators – the middleman ­companies that bring high-rolling gamblers to casinos – doing business in Macau has shrunk dramatically in recent months.

The total fell from 141 in January 2016 to 126, according to a list of licensed operators published by the Gaming ­Inspection and Coordination Bureau.

Many junkets shut down VIP rooms during 2015 and 2016. Some have started to explore opportunities in other regional markets, including the Philippines, Cambodia and Vietnam.