On Monday, Wei Seng “Paul” Phua, 50, a high-stakes Macau businessman and his 22-year-old son Wai Kit "Darren" Phua were released from the Henderson Detention Center in Las Vegas by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Phuas were apprehended by ICE after making bail for being charged in an illegal betting operation at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The Phuas were two of eight people arrested in that ongoing investigation.
“We are gratified that our clients are free, and they’re looking forward to telling their side of the story in court,” said David Chesnoff, a Las Vegas-based lawyer representing the Phuas.
Paul Phua, who is alleged to be a high-ranking member of the 14K Triad — a Hong Kong-based organization that specializes in illegal gambling and prostitution — and his son were being held on $2 million and $500,000 bonds, respectively, which were paid last week by professional poker players Phil Ivey and Andrew Robl. Ivey and Robl have played against Phua numerous times in the renowned Macau “Big Game”, as well as in high-stakes tournaments around the world. Phua was also ordered to put up his $48 million personal jet as collateral.
Upon making bail, U.S Magistrate Judge Bill Hoffman ordered both Phuas to “stay on home detention with electronic monitoring,” but before that could happen, ICE, which is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, took the Phuas into custody for possible deportation.
Furthermore, the Las Vegas Review-Journal has recently reported that Ivey is now looking to post $500,000 cash bond for 22-year-old Wai Kin Yong, which is reflected in court documents filed by Yong’s attorney, the San Diego-based Michael Pancer. Ivey is apparently willing to post up to $1 million for Yong’s release.
Yong and his father, well-known high-stakes poker player Seng Chen “Richard” Yong, 56, who ranks first on the Malaysian all-time money list due in no small part to finishing eighth in the 2012 World Series of Poker $1,000,000 buy-in Big One for One Drop for $1,237,333, were two of the other people taken into federal custody in connection with the illegal betting operation. According to Pancer’s filing, the elder Yong seeks to post his own bond as he has “$2 million sitting in a Caesars Palace safe.”
Pancer also filed papers that showed support for the Yongs from two other poker players — John Juanda and Gabe Patgorski. A letter filed on behalf of Juanda called the Yongs men of “honor and integrity,” while Patgorski offered to host the Yongs in his Las Vegas home as part of their release.
Hoffman is set to revisit his detention order regarding the Yongs later this week. Both the Yongs and Phuas are citizens of Malaysia.
PokerNews will have more on this story as details become available.