The US-based casino resort group Las Vegas Sands Corporation – owners of the stunning Venetian venues in Las Vegas and Macau – suffered a legal defeat this week when a Hong Kong businessman won a $43.8 million claim for services rendered in helping to facilitate the Sand's move into Macau.
Las Vegas Sands has opened two resorts on the island, the Sands Macao and the Venetian Macao on the Cotai Strip.
Richard Suen (55) originally claimed he was owed up to US$100 million for using his father's Chinese government contacts to help the Las Vegas-based Sands Corporation, owned by resort king Sheldon Adelson, secure a lucrative gambling licence in Macau. Suen was at one time Adelson's secretary.
Suen and his Round Square company, was hired by Las Vegas Sands to help the American giant break into the Macau gambling and resort market, and claimed he was successful in making this possible. He filed the civil claim in 2004, itemising a $5 million upfront fee and 2 percent of net casino profits if he was successful in enabling Sands to acquire a licence.
Lawyers for the Las Vegas Sands fought the case, alleging that Suen's efforts in 2000 and 2001 were not successful, after which the Galaxy Entertainment group was hired in 2002 for the same purpose. Subsequently the companies, which had by then acquired a licence, could not agree on the contractual arrangements and the partnership was dissolved. Macau then awarded Las Vegas Sands a sub-concession – a decision that Suen's lawyers said was a result of their client's earlier lobbying.
Suen testified that meetings he arranged in Beijing in July 2001 between Chinese government officials and Las Vegas Sands executives were responsible for the casino operator winning its licensing bid.
Adelson apparently offered conflicting testimony during the court hearing, first telling jurors that William Weidner, president and chief operating officer, provided a letter to Suen seeking his assistance in doing business in Macau. He later said Suen was never hired by the company.
Las Vegas Sands lawyer Rusty Hardin confirmed that the Las Vegas company plans to appeal the decision.
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