The crime-linked Chinese owner of a large casino and resort in northwestern Laos’ Bokeo province has resumed construction on an airport.
The project shelved in 2017 due to local opposition, in a bid to bring more tourists into his large resort and special economic zone, sources say.
Zhao Wei, chairman of the Dok Ngiew Kham Group and owner of the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Bokeo’s Tonpheung district, has been tied to human trafficking, money laundering, and the illegal trade in drugs and wildlife products.
In 2018, the U.S. Treasury Department declared the Zhao Wei business network, including the Golden Triangle’s well-known Kings Romans Casino, a “transnational criminal organization” (TCO) and sanctioned Zhao and three other individuals and companies across Laos, Thailand, and Hong Kong.
Speaking to RFA on June 22, a member of the Golden Triangle SEZ management team said the Dok Ngiew Kham Group and Kings Romans are now clearing land for a new airport after making payments in compensation to area landowners who had previously objected to the work.
“It seems that all landowners are happy with the compensation they’ve received, and are showing no objection to the land-clearing process,” the Dok Ngiew Kham official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“The company is planning to complete the construction of the airport and to welcome more tourists in 2022,” he said.
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