Macau High Stakes Regular Paul Phua Arrested In Las Vegas
Paul Phua, a multi-millionaire businessman and 2012 Big One for One Drop entrant, was arrested in Las Vegas and charged with operating an illegal gambling business. Seven other people were arrested and charged with the same offence.
According to the Las Vegas Review Journal, Phua and his accomplices were taking illegal wagers on matches of the recent FIFA World Cup when their operation was raided and shut down by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The FBI have since revealed they believe Phua to be a high-ranking member of the 14K Triad, a Hong Kong based global organised crime unit that specializes in drug trafficking, illegal gambling, prostitution and loan sharking. Phua’s legal representative, David Chesnoff, vigorously denied these claims, though a statement linking Phua to the 14K Triad group is included in the official criminal complaint.
Phua’s bail was set at $2 million, although U.S. Attorney Kimberly Frayn wanted the court to set a much larger sum as there were allegedly threats to flee the United States. In addition to the bail money, Phua gave up his $48 million private jet as collateral and is now under house arrest with electronic monitoring in the third-party custody of a Las Vegas physician, a friend of Phua.
Also arrested and placed under house arrest was Phua’s 22-year old son Darren Wai Kit Phua. Two of the defendants, Seng Chen Yong and his son, Wai Kin Yong, are both behind bars as they were deemed to be flight risks. Hui Tang, Yan Zhang, Yung Keung Fan, and Herman Chun Sang Yeung have also been detained until hearings this week.
Phua has been active in the largest cash games around the world for several years and is known to compete in high roller and super high roller events around the globe. Although Phua decided not to compete in any 2014 World Series of Poker (WSOP) events, he was active on the poker circuit earlier in the year and even managed a sixth place finish in the European Poker Tour Grand Final €100,000 Super High Roller for €385,000.
During the WSOP, rumors circulated that the Big One for One Drop founder, billionaire Guy Laliberte, had fallen out with a number of the wealthy Macau businessmen and that none of them were prepared to play in the $1 million buy-in event as a result. A number of the registered players considered pulling out, too, but despite the Asian businessmen not playing in the event, none of the registered players requested a refund. It is unlikely that the alleged disagreement is linked to Phua’s arrest.
This is not the first time a Macau high-stakes regular has fallen afoul of the authorities. In July 2013, Masa Kagawa was one of nine men arrested by the Chiba Prefectural Police in Japan and charged with being the mastermind behind an Android malware ring.
In that case, the fifty-year old Kagawa was alleged to have gathered approximately 37 million email addresses from 810,000 Android-powered devices by hosting the virus on a fake online dating service called Sakura. Kagawa and his team allegedly garnered approximately US$4 million in the last five months of the operation.
Like Phua, Kagawa was a regular in the Macau “Big Game” and was often seen competing in the various super high roller events around the globe.