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Kahnawake Authorities Close Magic Palace

le vendredi 29 mars 2024
Modifié à
Par Valérie Lessard


The Magic Palace in Kahnawake is closed until further notice. (Photo : Le Soleil - Erick Rivest)

The Magic Palace casino in Kahnawake was forced to close its doors on Monday, March 25th. The Kahnawake Gaming Commission suspended the establishment’s licence and the Mohawk Council terminated its royalty agreement following an investigation that linked Magic Palace to money laundering.

Translation Amanda Bennett

Kahnawake authorities said an investigation concluded that "there was an undisclosed beneficiary owner of Magic Palace, who was not a Kahnawa’kehró: non (native), who exercised significant control over the establishment and who received the majority of the proceeds". The regulations stipulate that only a Mohawk person from Kahnawake can own a casino in Kahnawake.

A "Silent" Investor

The person in question is Luftar Hysa, a businessman from Albania. An investigation by La Presse published this fall reported that Mr. Hysa is on the RCMP’s radar and is allegedly involved in money laundering operations linked to Mexican cartels.

Magic Palace’s lawyer refutes these allegations. Pierre L’Écuyer explained in an interview that the owners are Barry Alfred and Stan Myiow, two members of the Kahnawake community. They sought financial assistance from Mr. Hysa to invest in the property when they wanted to carry out renovations.

Mr. Hysa is a "silent investor, meaning that he put up the money, but he had no decision-making power," according to the lawyer. Luftar Hysa and his family have been in the casino business for nearly 25 years, notably in South Africa and Mexico, according to L’Écuyer.

As for the possible money-laundering links and ties to Mexican cartels, the lawyer intends to prove that these allegations are false and that they originate from competitors in Mexico who want Mr. Hysa to lose his licences there: "To avoid competition, some people have used journalists (in Mexico) to write a load of rubbish about Mr. Hysa. That’s causing him problems here, so that’s what we want to show," explained the lawyer.

The Magic Palace will ask the Kahnawake Gaming Commission for a hearing to get its licence back. Mr. L’Écuyer has not ruled out the possibility of appealing to the Superior Court if his client is not satisfied with the outcome of the hearing.

In its decision, the Gaming Commission also required the closure of Mirela’s restaurant until it was completely separated from the casino. Work is under way to comply with this directive, informed Mr. L’Écuyer.

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