Yesterday, Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS) agreed to return $47.4 million to the United States government in response to failing to alert government officials that a "high-stakes gambler, who was later linked to international drug trafficking, made numerous large and suspicious deposits with the casino," according to a Drug Enforcement Agency press release.
Las Vegas Sands operates the Venetian-Palazzo in Las Vegas and will return the money within the next 10 days. In response, the government won't prosecute the casino for not filing a Suspicious Activity Report for casinos and will end its criminal investigation. The U.S. Attorney's Office said Las Vegas Sands "completely cooperated with the investigation."
United States Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. said in a statement:
What happens in Vegas no longer stays in Vegas. For the first time, a casino has faced the very real possibility of a federal criminal case for failing to properly report suspicious funds received from a gambler. This is also the first time a casino has agreed to return those funds to the government.
Las Vegas Sands will return money sent to the Venetian casino by Zhenli Ye Gon, who made wire transfers to the casino totaling about $45 million and depositing cashier's checks for about $13 million between 2005 and 2007. He was "the largest all-cash, up-front gambler the Venetian-Palazzo had ever had to the point" and is currently awaiting extradition to Mexico, where he's been charged with drug trafficking.
Reuters reported that Ron Reese, a spokesman for Las Vegas Sands, said, "The company cooperated fully and that effort was clearly recognized by the government."