Backer of Myanmar casino city sanctioned by U.S.

dongmei ribbon cutting
Dongmei ribbon cutting in KL (file)

The U.S. Treasury Department has sanctioned one of the key investors in a Myanmar project that includes casinos, accusing him of bribery and corruption.

Wan Kuok Koi, is also known as “Broken Tooth” and is the leader of the 14K Triad, which the U.S. says is one of the largest Chinese organized criminal organizations in the world.

According to the U.S., Koi is designated for being a foreign person who is a leader, or official of an entity, that has engaged in corruption, or whose members have engaged in corruption or bribery.

The government also sanctioned three bodies related to Koi, one of which was the Dongmei Group, a Hong Kong-registered company, which is the main backer of the giant Saixigang Zone in Burma. 

Dongmei held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the zone in March this year in Kuala Lumpur. It has pledged $18 billion to develop the area, which the U.S. Institute for Peace has said is designed to house many of the online gambling firms that fled Sihanoukville after a ban came into force from the start of this year. The name Saixigang means surpass Sihanoukville.  

As a result of the U.S. action, all property and interests in property of Koi that are in the U.S. or in the possession of U.S. citizens are blocked and must be reported to U.S. authorities. 

It also forbids any provision of funds, goods or services to the blocked company or person and forbids Koi from entering the U.S., or its territories. 

In its press release, the U.S. also accused Koi of trying to expand the influence of the 14K under the guise of China’s Belt and Road initiative.

“The 14K Triad is utilizing Broken Tooth’s World Hongmen History and Culture Association as an effort to legitimize itself,” it said.  

“The World Hongmen History and Culture Association has managed to co-opt elite figures in Malaysia and Cambodia. This continues a pattern of overseas Chinese actors trying to paper over illegal criminal activities by framing their actions in terms of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the China Dream, or other major initiatives of the CCP.”

Koi was released from jail in 2012 after 14 years for his triad-related activities in Macau.