Three international businessmen in Norway recently received intriguing telephone calls proposing an offer to invest in an ultra-profitable Macau casino. This offer came from representatives of Japan-based Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. who were selling discounted shares in Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd.
The problem? “The company has no relation to us,” explained Mitsubishi UFJ spokesman Hironori Imafuku, going on to warn that “The group companies are looking into this and considering a response.” Melco Crown spokeswoman Maggie Ma also stated that her group would “consider taking action after studying the relevant facts” and that authorities could expect full cooperation in any investigation.
The phony pitch was reported to authorities in Norway by Ole Martin Kristiansen, a Norwegian business owner who turned over email and documents bearing a logo similar to that of the Mitsubishi Group. Kristiansen also reported that one saleswoman spent 35 minutes pitching him Melco Crown stock at 10% below market value.
In terms of Internet play, changes to Japanese gambling laws – if any – proceed excruciating slowly. While it has been said that Japan has the single biggest potential market for gaming in Asia, with some 10 million citizens already regularly playing at online gambling sites in Japan, only the proscribed sorts of gambling are legal by the letter of the law.