MGM rumor turns out to be Grand tale

Jun 18, 2002 10:53 AM

A rumor sweeping the Strip says that the MGM Grand’s president is out.

’Taint so.

Gamal Aziz remains president and chief operating officer of the 6,000-room resort. And MGM Mirage CEO Terri Lanni says the company "couldn’t be happier" with Aziz, who was promoted to the high-profile position late last year.

"He’s doing a great job,’’ Lanni told GamingToday ­­Monday afternoon.

So how did the rumor get started?

"I have no idea, but people from all over have been talking about it. I heard about it from corporate security,’’ Lanni said. "It’s very frustrating. (Aziz) is the most decent human being I know.’’

According to the rumor mill, Aziz, a native of Egypt, had become embroiled in a money laundering scheme. Lanni figures that the inflammatory story may have been fueled by Aziz’s bank account in Cairo ”” a personal account that his family uses when visiting Egypt and one which has been approved by gaming control.

"Apparently there’s someone out there who just doesn’t like him,’’ Lanni speculates in the midst of heightened concern over Mideast terror organizations. Vouching for his multilingual exec, Lanni describes Aziz as a "patriotic U.S. citizen who loves this country.’’

Aziz, 44, earned a business degree from the University of Cairo and worked at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, the Westin Hotel in Washington, D.C., and the St. Francis in San Francisco before coming to Las Vegas in 1997. He has held senior management positions at Caesars Palace and The Mirage and was senior vice president of food and beverage at Bellagio.

A fitness buff who works out daily and plays soccer regularly, Aziz has a wife, two daughters and a son.