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Las Vegas Sands pays $9 million penalty on Asian bribery charges
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Las Vegas Sands pays $9 million penalty on Asian bribery charges.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission revealed in a statement Thursday that Sheldon Adelson's Las Vegas Sands company has agreed to pay a $9 million penalty to settle allegations of Asian bribery emerging from a five-year federal investigation based on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act..
The SEC statement details a lack of correct documentation regarding more than $62 million in transactions with an Asian consultant engaged to acquire properties and companies in China, with the company's records apparently unable to properly account for some $700,000 in payments.
The SEC statement (accessible here: https://www.sec.gov/news/pressrelease/2016-64.html) claims that LVS kept inaccurate books and records and frequently lacked supporting documentation or proper approvals for more than $62 million in payments to a consultant in Asia.
"The consultant acted as an intermediary to obscure the company’s role in certain business transactions such as the purchases of a basketball team and a building in China, where casino gambling isn’t permitted," the SEC statement reveals.
"At one point, LVS could not account for more than $700,000 transferred to the consultant for team expenses, yet continued to transfer millions of dollars to him. A portion of the payments were improperly recorded in company books and records, such as money supposedly spent on artwork for the building when none was actually purchased.”
“Publicly traded companies must have appropriate financial controls in place to ensure that expenses are paid for bona fide services,” said Andrew J. Ceresney, Director of the SEC Enforcement Division. “Las Vegas Sands failed to implement controls to prevent tens of millions of dollars from being paid out without appropriate documentation or authorization.”
The statement goes on to describe in detail the irregularities uncovered by the five-year investigation before advising that in addition to the $9 million penalty, LVS has agreed to retain an independent consultant for two years to review its FCPA-related internal controls, recordkeeping, and financial reporting policies and procedures and its ethics and compliance functions.
LVS consented to the SEC’s order without admitting or denying the findings that it violated the books-and-records and internal controls provisions of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
The SEC statement acknowledged the assistance of the Fraud Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
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