Investor's officials probed
By JAMES M. ODATO
The state Racing & Wagering Board is investigating key officials with the huge Malaysian company that has jumped into the competition to build and operate a racino at Aqueduct Raceway.
The six-month probe came about after the former chief executive of Empire Resorts in Monticello complained to the board of self-dealing, conflicts and questionable activities by people installed by the Malaysian investor after it acquired stock in Empire and took control last year.
The prospective Aqueduct operator is called Genting New York LLC. It is tied to companies called the Genting Group and the investment organization Kien Huet, which spent $55 million to take control of Empire, the operator of Monticello Raceway and the video lottery terminal operation there.
Joseph Bernstein, Empire's CEO until the end of last year, complained in a Dec. 31 letter to the racing board about some of the activities of Kien Huat and Genting leaders, Kok Thay Lim, Colin Au Fook Yew and G. Michael "Micky" Brown.
Bernstein and the Genting principals sued each other but recently resolved differences, according to Empire Resorts' report last month to the Securities and Exchange Commission. In a settlement, Bernstein received $1.5 million in cash plus the right to buy 3.25 million shares of Empire stock at $2 a share through 2020. He agreed not to say anything derogatory or negative about Kien Huat or the principals and to not deal with the St. Regis Mohawk tribe, with which Empire Resorts hopes to build a casino.
On May 19, Bernstein wrote to the racing board to withdraw his letter of complaint. "They are good people," he wrote about the men he had made allegations about when he requested an investigation.
Racing board spokesman Joseph Mahoney said despite the retraction "we are continuing our review of this matter."
Genting is Asia's largest casino operator and has passed regulatory muster in four continents. The Lim family are the controlling interests. Affiliates own Star Cruises Ltd., the largest cruise operator in Asia, and financed Foxwoods Resort & Casino in Connecticut and the Seneca Niagara Casino in New York. Genting recently opened a $4.55 billion gambling resort in Singapore.
The group can easily beat the $300 million minimum down payment the New York Division of Lottery is demanding from Aqueduct racino bidders, according to industry officials. Six prospective bidders are supposed to meet Tuesday at the Queens track in a bidder's conference. Financial aspects of a bid are worth just 10 percent of a score.
AG race decisions
Two of five Democratic attorney general candidates must soon quit the race or roll the dice about continuing their public service careers, according to the time clock on withdrawal. Assemblyman Richard Brodsky and Sen. Eric Schneiderman can't run for re-election in their current posts if they continue with the AG run past Wednesday.
Some political operatives think Brodsky has the tougher choice. Schneiderman has some advantages, such as union support and a broad Manhattan district from which to draw votes. Brodsky, with lots of Assembly support, shows signs of sticking for the primary. He conducted an AG fundraiser last Thursday led by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.