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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 August 2007, 11:14 GMT 12:14 UK
Macau leader denies casino claim
Venetian Macao Resort hotel
Macau has seen its casino sector boom since being liberalised
Edmund Ho, political leader of the Chinese island of Macau, has dismissed claims that he has investments in a Hong Kong casino empire, reports say.

The South Morning China Post said Mr Ho had inherited part of his father's stake in a gambling tycoon's firm.

The Macau government said Mr Ho had offloaded his stake before assuming leadership in 1999. But the newspaper said recent data disproved this.

Macau's casino industry has surged, overtaking Las Vegas in revenue.

Share transfer

The newspaper claimed Edmund Ho and his two brothers had been heir to 100m Hong Kong dollars' ($12.8m; 6.3m) worth of shares in Many Town Company, which invests in gambling firm Sociedade de Turismo e Diversoes de Macau.

Sociedade de Turismo e Diversoes de Macau is run by casino boss Stanley Ho.

Edmund Ho, who has been head of Macau's government since the former Portuguese colony returned to Chinese rule in 1999, is not related to Stanley Ho.

According to a government spokesperson, "the political leader has no business relations or dealings with" Stanley Ho.

The official said Edmund Ho transferred the Many Town shares he inherited to a brother in 1995.

But information from Hong Kong's company registration files imply this transfer did not take place.

Since 2001, casinos have expanded in Macau after a law ended Stanley Ho's four-decade monopoly.

Although he now faces competition, Stanley Ho's firm remains the leading gambling operation on the island.

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