Singapore no longer concerned with Genting after suitability checks

Singapore (AP) – Singapore said Monday it was no longer concerned about Genting International’s business integrity after the casino operator took measures to clear its links to a Macau tycoon.

Malaysia-based Genting, which held a groundbreaking ceremony Monday for its 5.2 billion Singapore dollars (USD 3.4 billion, EUR 2.5 billion) casino project, was warned by Singapore in February that the company and its associates would have to prove they could run a clean gambling venue.

„Resorts World at Sentosa understands our need to maintain these probity checks and there is no issue now,“ Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang said at the groundbreaking ceremony.

Singapore was apparently concerned over Genting’s Macau business tie-up with casino baron Stanley Ho, one of the most powerful men in Hong Kong and Macau, a gambling enclave that has a reputation as an organized crime stronghold.

In response, Genting sold its share of the Macau investment to its partner, Star Cruises, and then bought Star Cruises‘ stake in the Singapore resort.

The purchase from its sister company would give Genting full control over the casino project on Singapore’s Sentosa island and „potentially help to simplify (Genting’s) application process for a casino license,“ the company said at the time.

Genting International’s chairman, Lim Kok Thay, told reporters Monday that the company had concluded the disposal of its Macau investment and is awaiting shareholder approval on its purchase of the 25 percent stake in the Singapore casino from Star Cruises.

Singapore legalised casino gaming in 2005 and said it would allow two casino resorts to be built.

The first was awarded to Las Vegas Sands Corp., which plans to open its USD 3.6 billion Marina Bay Sands resort by July 2009.

Genting’s Resorts World at Sentosa is expected to be operating by 2010.