David Chow accused of blackmailing Cape Verde

The mega Cape Verde project announced by Macau Legend will finally be undertaken in phases. The first involves a third of the total investment announced. Then we will see; all because of the bank that Chow wants to open in the archipelago . . . 

‘Chocketing of David Chow’ – with these words one of Cape Verde’s main newspapers characterises the addendum to the agreement signed by the Macau entrepreneur and the government of this far-flung African country that will translate into an investment made in phases, with only one-third of the money originally envisaged being allocated to phase one. 

When, in 2015, David Chow and the government of Cape Verde signed an investment agreement the Macau Legend businessman proposed investing MOP2.34 billion, and at the time it was reported that the Integrated Resort would be completed by 2021. 

At the end of last year, Chow surprised the rulers of Cape Verde by proposing a change to the contract: saying, after all, that he wants to build the complex in phases – how many or what they will comprise is not described except that in the first phase Chow proposes to invest a third of the total amount (just over MOP800 million). 

The terms of the negotiations are unknown – the investment of Macau Legend is the largest private investment in Cape Verde’s history – but the fact is that the local government accepted. 

The text published in Cape Verde’s Official Gazette reads: ‘given the evolution of the national environment of the enterprise in the last two years the promoter suggested, and the Government agreed to accept, a proposal to conduct the investment project in phases.’ 

Macau Business has in various ways contacted the government of Cape Verde to 1) perceive what they mean by ‘evolution of the national enterprise environment’ and 2) what commitments exist for the following phases, but without success. 

It is in this context that the newspaper A Nação comes in, reporting that David Chow proposed the phasing of the tourist project as a response to the fact that it has not yet received the green light to open a bank in the archipelago. 

Earlier last year Chow announced that he had requested permission to open a bank (Sino-Atlantic Bank). Almost a year and a half later the licence has yet to materialise. 

‘David Chow’s blackmail is clear to the local government,’ writes A Nação. 

The fact that the bank serves to move the money of the casino that will be constructed in Ilhéu de Santa Maria, in Praia City, seems to have provoked resistance to the project. It has even been reported that the Portuguese capital banks, which dominate the sector – namely, Caixa Geral de Depósitos (owner of the Banco Nacional Ultramarino in Macau) – view the project with great scepticism.  

Coincidence or not, the Director of Cape Verde Judicial Police recently acknowledged that “risks may arise from the gambling activities,” assuring that “the police are aware of this reality and are prepared to effectively attack, not blindly.” 

In its most recent Annual Report (2018) Macau Legend reveals that ‘with the completion of superstructure work of the office building in 2017, the Group shall revisit the construction plan of the hotel and casino complex’ and that ‘in Cape Verde, the Group has completed the superstructure work of the office building, and is now revisiting the overall construction plan of the hotel and casino complex, in order to meet the requirements of the Group’s future business strategy’. Nevertheless, ‘progress on a number of overseas projects, including an integrated resort and casino in Cape Verde, are within our expectation’. 

22 months to build casino 

The superstructure work of the office building refers to the 14-storey edifice housing all the businesses and activities of Macau Legend. It is the only work completed as a result of the agreement signed in 2015 and which, meanwhile, has undergone several adjustments. 

The construction of the bridge that will connect the little island to the city is also in progress. 

The services building and bridge are part of the list of ‘new’ commitments made in the addendum to the contract, which include completion of the associated landscaping, parking lots and support structures, boutique hotel, casino with 250 rooms and various facilities for restaurants, bars and shops. 

‘The other phases of the project are subject to market conditions and the new policies adopted by the Government of Cape Verde, aiming at mutual benefit,’ says the document, adding that these other phases of the project ‘will be presented for appreciation by the Government of Cape Verde after the completion of the first phase’. 

The text states that these works have to be completed in 22 months from the date of publication in the Official Gazette (last April). 

This is Cape Verde’s largest tourism venture, with an initial investment of about 15 per cent of local Gross Domestic Product, and occupies some 152,700 square metres. 

In return for the investment promised in 2015, David Chow received a 25-year gambling licence, 15 of which are on an exclusive basis on the Island of Santiago. This gaming concession cost CV Entertainment Co., a subsidiary of Macau Legend, the equivalent of about MOP11 million. 

The promoter also received a special licence to exclusively explore online gambling across the country and the sports betting market for 10 years. 

Difficulties in Portugal 

This is not the only setback David Chow has on his hands as far as investments made outside of Macau are concerned. 

His project in Portugal has also been delayed, as a result of delays by public bodies. 

The Macau Legend tourism project for Setúbal (south of Lisbon) foresees an investment of more than MOP2 billion to build a marina, two luxury hotels, 4 and 5-star hotels on the riverfront, a building with 60 apartments, ‘yacht club’, ferry to Troy, ‘Retail Village’, ‘Hot Market’ and ‘Grocery Store’. 

Chow awaits, for example, the launch of the public tender for the concession of the future marina of Setúbal, for which several dates have been mooted but has not yet happened.