‘Laos trumped up charges vs Baldwin for refusing to pay bribes’

»Laos counsel: Bridge Capital got $27.2M from Laos casino

Lawyers for Bridge Capital LLC accused the Laos government of trumping up false charges against Bridge Capital co-owner John K. Baldwin because the businesses that Baldwin ran in Laos would not pay bribes.

Attorneys Deborah Deitsch Perez and Michael Dotts said the Laos government is abusing U.S. law in an attempt to coerce Baldwin into abandoning efforts to make it live up to its commitments.

Attorney William M. Fitzgerald, who is counsel for Laos, pointed out, though, that despite Baldwin’s assertion that Bridge Capital “does not do business in Laos,” the company received $27.2 million in 84 transactions from Savan Vegas and Casino Co. Ltd. in Laos.

Fitzgerald said the $27.2 million underscore the significance of their request for discovery in connection with their request for the U.S. District Court for the NMI to issue a subpoena.

Laos asked for subpoena to be served on Bridge Capital and on Bridge Capital chief financial officer David Jensen, in order to obtain documents in connection with the criminal tax investigations in Laos and in connection with two international arbitration proceedings in Singapore.

Fitzgerald discussed the alleged $27.2 million payments in Laos’ reply to Bridge Capital’s response to Lao’s application for discovery.

Fitzgerald pointed out that in August 2013, the Savan Vegas loan schedule reflects a loan balance of $49.7 million.

The lawyer said the schedule outlines approximately $1.4 million in various fees and interest.

That month, he added, the Savan Vegas paid over $2.69 million against the loan.

Fitzgerald said despite the fact that the Savan Vegas Casino paid nearly $1.3 million more than the interest and fees for that month, the loan balance remained unchanged, to the penny, in Septtember 2013, at $49.7 million.

He said the same pattern occurs from September to October and so on.

For the purposes of Lao’s application, Fitzgerald said $1.825 million of the $2.69 million paid against the loan in August 2013, was paid to Bridge Capital, not Sanum Investments or Lao Holdings N.V.

Fitzgerald said these payments expose Baldwin’s contradictory position and demonstrate that the financial documents of Bridge Capital, “which does consolidate its financial statements with Sanum Investments and Lao Holdings,” are necessary to understanding Baldwin’s fraudulent bookkeeping scheme.

According to Fitzgerald, Bridge Capital is the parent company of Sanum Investments and Lao Holdings.

He said Sanum and Lao Holdings are parties in the arbitrations and that Sanum is the target of the Lao proceedings.

He said Lao Holdings owns the Savan Vegas and Casino located in Laos.

Fitzgerald said the casino opened in 2009 and that Savan Vegas is now owned 80 percent by the Baldwin group and 20 percent by Laos.

In Bridge Capital’s response to Lao’s application, Perez and Dotts said Laos failed to carry its burden to show that the court should issue the requested subpoena.

Perez and Dotts said the subpoenas cannot have a legitimate basis because Bridge Capital is not the parent of, and does not hold an interest in, either Sanum or Lao Holdings.

Nor does Bridge Capital have consolidated financials with Sanum or Lao Holdings, the lawyers said.

They said Bridge Capital does no business in Laos, but rather Bridge Capital owners are Sanum executives who have interests in Lao Holdings.

Perez and Dotts said Laos lured Baldwin and the companies he runs—Sanum Investments and Lao Holdings—to invest millions of dollars in Laos in exchange for numerous benefits, such as favorable tax treatment, control over an exclusive gaming zone, a free trade zone, and the ability to open slot clubs.

Perez and Dotts said that when Baldwin refused to funnel the investment’s profits under the table to government officials, Laos reneged on its tax commitments, seized assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and gave the Thanaleng Slot Club to a Lao company.

They said Laos eventually forcibly stole, among other things, the Savan Vegas casino hotel and resort, a business owned 80 percent by Sanum, a subsidiary of Lao Holdings.

To shield its conduct, Perez and Dotts said, Laos is employing misdirection and character assassination—using the “big lie” theory of persuasion.

“None of this is new for [the government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic],” they said.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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