Drug case suspect gambles with $14 million at a New Zealand casino at the same time reporting only a $4,000 income.
A suspect in a long-term drug-related investigation was caught after gambling away millions at the SkyCity Casino in Auckland operating in compliance with New Zealand gambling laws. Throwing caution to the win he gambled with $14 million at the same time declaring an income of only $4,217. Naturally, such discrepancy didn’t go unnoticed by the authorities.
51-year-old Zhi Wei Yang has also bought a $1 million house, completely mortgage-free. He was a sole beneficiary of various bank accounts with nearly a million in them and owned an extensive jewelry collection. Not something you do if you only make $4K something.
The drug case
This drug case, where our high-roller was implicated, has been under careful investigation for a long time. In the documents, submitted before the court, the suspect has been alleged of being a wholesale supplier of pseudoephedrine or “P”. This drug is utilized to produce methamphetamine.
The police investigation, dubbed Operation Ghost, resulted in seizure of 600 kg of the Class-B drug. According to police calculations it would have been enough to produce $172 million worth of P. When searches and seizures were carried out, police has arrested at least 30 people, however Yang was overseas at that time.
What gave Yang away
During the 19-month period leading up to the police operation, Yang has managed to spend over $2 million on various properties, and a gambling turnover in excess of $14 million at SkyCity. These include both the total amount of money he spent and his winnings.
However, he only reported earnings of $222 a month during this period, which naturally raised obvious question where did the rest of the millions come from.
New Zealand gambling news managed to get a quote from the court file submitted by the police. “The inference available is that his assets would have been funded, at least in part, through criminal activity.”
More evidence against Yang
New Zealand police also have surveillance videos and tapped phone conversations implicating the high-roller. This evidence confirms he was a “substantial wholesaler” of the drug, and it will be used against him in the court proceedings.
Yang has not returned to the country to face the charges, but the authorities have already obtained a court order necessary to freeze his assets, which are believed to be “tainted”. They needed a separate civil case for that, but this evidence can also be used in the criminal proceedings as well.
Let’s take a look what $4,217 can apparently buy you in New Zealand. Here’s the list of what Yang assets have been restrained by the police:
• Bank accounts holding $79,000, $36,000, $72,000 and $504,000
• A mortgage-free home purchased for $1 million
• 33 pieces of jewelry, including items such as $43,000 diamond ring and a $33,000 pearl pendant
• Over $10,000 in cash
• SkyCity Casino records proving Yang’s gambling turnover over $14 million in 19 months
These assets will be kept restrained in compliance with the Criminal Proceeds Recovery Act. However, Yang can actually get them back, provided he can prove how he paid for them. That is if he ever returns to the country to face the criminal charges.
Other suspects gambling at SkyCity and the management’s reaction
Zhi Wei Yang might be the largest suspect of the case, found to be gambling at the SkyCity Casino, but he’s certainly not the only one. According to the reports there were other Operation Ghost targets, throwing money away at SkyCity Casino tables. Naturally, their gambling records are also being examined to find discrepancies between their spending and reported earnings.
Suspected drug dealer gambles with millions at New Zealand casino
• He played under New Zealand gambling laws, but will illegally obtained money
• Police carried out a 19-month investigation
• Authorities have already restricted his “tainted” assets
SkyCity Casino spokesman revealed that the management has been cooperating with the police investigation and the Department of Internal Affairs. The casino has already fully discharged its legal responsibilities. Unfortunately, the spokesman couldn’t provide detailed information because of legal restriction pertaining to the case.
He has been quoted saying: “We take our responsibilities in this area very seriously. We place a very strong emphasis on surveillance and security, spending millions of dollars on this each year. We work very closely with the police and other enforcement agencies.”