KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 12 — Alleged gambling kingpin Paul Phua purportedly paid millions to Macau police in exchange for being freed from custody over an illegal gambling operation, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported today.
The allegation surfaced this Monday in the US, where Phua is facing trial over an illegal betting scheme during the football World Cup this July, the Hong Kong paper reported.
Citing court documents, SCMP reported that US prosecutors are claiming that the Malaysian paid up to HK$5 million (RM2.16 million) to a Macau police officer after his June arrest there.
But Phua’s lawyer David Chesnoff yesterday denied that his client had paid bribes in order to be released from police custody in Macau, also claiming that the alleged evidence was procured from a purportedly unlawful raid by US authorities.
“We vehemently deny these allegations which, interestingly, were unknown to law enforcement but for their illegal search and were only cited to prejudice Mr Phua,” Chesnoff was quoted saying by SCMP.
The evidence that allegedly proved Phua’s purported bribery is said to have been obtained from a US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) raid of the 50-year-old man’s Las Vegas villa — which was reportedly rented at US$25,000 (RM80,050) a night.
According to SCMP, US prosecutors had presented text messages that indicated Phua’s 22-year-old son Darren said that his father could be released from police custody if a payment of up to HK$5 million is made “under the table”.
In a transcribed phone conversation with another man, Darren allegedly said :”We just received a call from Macau saying that the one who arrested Paul is a friend of Paul and they are negotiating now. Hopefully they just want money.”
SCMP said that Macau Secretary for Security’s office said it did not have any information on the bribery claim, while the Macau Public Prosecution Office could not be contacted at the time of its report.
Just hours after his release from Macau police custody in June, Phua is said to have then flew on a private jet to Las Vegas, where he and several others were nabbed by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) just days later.
Both Phua and his son Darren were charged in a Las Vegas court on August 5 and were freed on bail totalling US$2.5 million (RM7.97 million).