A snapshot of a magazine in Macau showing a photo of former Macau gambling triad leader Wan Kuok-koi and President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. (Contributed Photo)

President Tommy Remengesau Jr. yesterday reiterated his longstanding opposition to the establishment of casinos in Palau, saying it is illegal, ruling out an endorsement of such activity under his administration.

Remengesau said this is in response to a report that former Macau gambling triad leader, Wan Kuok-koi is reportedly investing in Palau to open a casino resort.

“Casino in Palau is illegal and the Office of the President will not endorse it,” Remengesau told Island Times in a phone interview.

The president said Wan was brought to his office for a courtesy call with Jin Pin Hotel representatives but at that time was unaware of his identity.

Last week, Remengesau said the Taiwan government alerted him about Wan’s criminal record.

Wan went to prison in 1999 on charges illegal gambling, loan-sharking, criminal association, and attempted murder of the chief of police in Macau. He was released from jail in 2012, after serving his sentence.

According to reports, Wan again re-entered the casino business.

A check with the Attorney General’s Office showed that Wan Kuok-koi along with three other individuals formed a non-profit organization called Palau China Hung-Mun Cultural Association.

The non-profit organization signed by President Remengesau on Feb. 25, 2019 stated that its aim is to “promote better understanding, acceptance, and exchanges of Palauan cultures and practices to the foreigners, especially Chinese people in or traveling to Palau.”

As a non-profit organization, the association is barred from engaging in businesses in Palau.

The non-profit organization made no mention of establishing a gambling establishment nor did it mention that it is planning to engage in any business in Palau.

“The Charter does not mention a casino or panchinko concession. Such activities would not be within the acceptable activities of a non-profit organization chartered under Palauan law and operating in the Republic,” a statement from the AG’s office stated.

Palau China Hung-Mun Cultural Association named incorporators are Wan, Bowen Xiao, a national from Vanuatu and two Palauan nationals, Postmaster General Timothy Sinsak, and Airai Governor Tmewang Rengulbai.

Remengesau said as far as he knows, the association’s application went through the vetting process of the AG’s Office.

“All I did was sign a non-profit charter that has gone through the process at the Corporate Registrar at Attorney General’s Office,” Remengesau said.

The president said the non-profit organization is not an approval to establish a casino in Palau.

The president said he is unaware of any other business venture Wan might have entered into with individuals in Palau but reminded investors that gambling is not allowed in Palau.

The statement from the AG office also said that the chartered organization also made “no reference to Angaur or a 99-year lease.”

The AG office said the organization is “limited to traditional purposes for non-profits including scientific, religious, educational, or charitable purposes.”  (By Bernadette H. Carreon)