Senior Canadian Diplomat Linked to ‘Dangerous’ Macau Casino Investment

A former Canadian ambassador was linked to an investment in a Macau casino VIP room leased from Hong Kong tycoon Stanley Ho.

The federal employee was alleged to have received monthly cash payouts — delivered by hand in Vancouver — in a “dangerous” scheme that might have risked Canada Revenue Agency prosecutions, according to documents.

The Canadian foreign affairs veteran involved in the case, John Peter Bell, served in many top posts including as ambassador to Malaysia, before being linked to Stanley Ho – who is a gambling mogul linked to Chinese organized crime, according to U.S. documents.

Bell served as Canada’s chief federal negotiator for B.C. First Nations land claims, records show, at the time he entered into his Macau business deal.

But in an interview with Global News, Bell said he did not directly invest with Ho in Macau, but rather forwarded a $250,000 US loan (worth about $375,000 in Canadian dollars) to a consortium of Ho’s VIP room investors, including Bell’s cousin.

“I can’t say much about this room. All I know is that the consortium of people that funded it, and every month they got a return, and paid it out,” Bell said.

“Did I think I was dealing with crooks? No. These people invested in a room in a casino. Did I think they were stealing money, this was the time the Chinese were trying to get rid of their money, and so on? I wasn’t worried about regulations being broken, or anything. I mean, I was two steps away.”

In researching this previously unreported case, Global News reviewed affidavits and evidence filed in B.C. Supreme Court — including emails, legal, banking and accounting records created from 2000 to 2011 — as well as corporate and government records.

After reviewing evidence gathered by Global News, Transparency International Canada’s Denis Meunier — a former deputy director of anti-money laundering agency Fintrac, and former director of criminal investigations with the CRA — said he has never before seen a case in which a Canadian investor profited from Macau VIP rooms.

And as B.C. citizens try to understand how Macau-style VIP gambling has led to large-scale money laundering in B.C. Lottery casinos, evidence in the case raises red flags, “worthy of further investigations,” Meunier said.

Bell was introduced to the Macau investment by his cousin, West Vancouver man David Stuart Levy. The pair enjoyed a “mutually beneficial relationship” in a scheme that involved Levy’s Hong Kong-based factory inspection business, Levy’s Macau VIP room investment, and elite business connections that Bell introduced to Levy, B.C. Supreme Court filings say.

According to Levy, Bell’s investment in Macau started in 2000, when Bell and Levy visited one of Ho’s casinos. They also visited sites where Levy’s company, Quality Control Services, inspected Chinese factories, in order to certify shipments to North American retailers.

credit and more: by Sam Cooper