High-stakes poker player and Macau businessman Wei Seng “Paul” Phua, and his 22-year-old son Wai Kit "Darren" Phua were part of an operation that landed them in jail recently and Monday found them being released from the Henderson Detention Center in Las Vegas where they had been held by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that the Phuas were picked up by ICE after they had made bail for charges of an illegal betting operation at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The Phuas and six others were arrested in that bust.
“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 the Phuas attorney.
The Phuas were held on $2 million and $500,000 bonds. Paul Phua is believed by authorities to be a high-ranking member of the 14K Triad, a Hong Kong-based organization specializing in illegal gambling and prostitution, his bail was set at $2 million. Paul's son, Wai Kit's bail was set at $500,000. Their bail was paid last week by professional poker players Phil Ivey and Andrew Robl. The renowned Macau “Big Game” brought both Ivey and Robl to the tables to play against Phua more than once and have faced off against each other in high-stakes tournaments around the world. Along with the bail money, Phua had to use his $48 million personal jet as collateral also.
Once bail was made, both Phuas were ordered to “stay on home detention with electronic monitoring,” by U.S Magistrate Judge Bill Hoffman. ICE, which is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, had other plans for the Phuas and took them into custody for possible deportation.
Perhaps Ivey is considering a new business venture because according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Ivey is now looking to post the $500,000 cash bond for 22-year-old Wai Kin Yong verified by the court documents filed by San Diego-based Michael Pancer, Yong’s attorney. Ivey will post up to $1 million for Yong’s release according to the documents.
Both Yong and his father Seng Chen “Richard” Yong are well-known high-stakes poker players. Seng Yong ranks first on the Malaysian all-time money list and that ranking is due largely to his eighth place finish in the 2012 World Series of Poker $1,000,000 Big One for One Drop for $1,237,333. The Yongs are two of the people taken into federal custody in connection with the illegal betting operation. Seng Yong plans to post his own bond, according to Pancer’s filing, since he has “$2 million sitting in a Caesars Palace safe.”
More big name poker players have stepped up to show their support for the Yongs according to papers filed by Pancer — John Juanda and Gabe Patgorski. Juanda said the Yongs were men of “honor and integrity,” in a letter filed with the court on his behalf. Patgorski offered to open his Las Vegas home to the Yongs as part of their release.
Judge Hoffman will revisit his detention order concerning the Yongs later this week. The Yongs and Phuas are citizens of Malaysia.