After a 15-year legal battle, Las Vegas Sands has settled a lawsuit with a Hong Kong businessman. The sum was never disclosed, but not it may have been revealed
Row over Macau
The long-running lawsuit between Las Vegas Sands and Hong Kong businessman Richard Suen has taken 15 years to reach a conclusion.
Suen claimed that he helped Las Vegas Sands got the license for its first casino in Macau casino. He said he made key introductions between Las Vegas Sands executives and leading Chinese officials, to aid the company in getting a license in Macau.
While there was no written contract, he said he was promised a $5m success fee if the license was awarded, and a 2% share of all profits for the length of the 18-year license. If this verbal contract could be proven to be legitimate, Suen would have received about $347m in profits.
There have been three trials since the lawsuit began in 2004. Las Vegas Sands initially offered a settlement of $3.76m to Suen. The company said he gave up on the cause in 2001, with the first casino not opening until 2004.
Sheldon Adelson gave testimony during the trial. However, he is currently being treated for cancer, so he could not attend the most recent hearing. The jurors saw his testimony from the previous trials in 2008 and 2013.
At the first trial, the jurors awarded a financial settlement of $44m. This was increased to $70m following the second trial.
However, further evidence came to light, leading to the third and final trial. This hearing came to a close very quickly, on March 14, 2019. Expectations were that it would run until mid-April at least.
Following the settlement announcement, the jury applauded. Both of the parties’ attorneys said the result was fair. Suen’s lawyer said they would not be appealing and that they were happy with their payout. At the time, no information on the size of the settlement was given.
An accidental revelation?
According to a public filing, it looks as though Las Vegas Sands Corporation’s settlement sum to Richard Suen was $96m.
The company issued a quarterly earnings report on April 18 and the sum of $96m was listed as a “nonrecurring legal settlement.”
Company executives gave no further comment on this figure, either in the report or during the subsequent conference call with analysts.
Background to Las Vegas Sands
Las Vegas Sands Corporation is a global casino company that has interests in many different gambling hotspots. The company headquarters is in Las Vegas and the founder is well-known billionaire Sheldon Adelson. He was the largest donor to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, constructing $20m to the election campaign and $5m to the inauguration.
LVS is the owner of the Palazzo and the Venetian casinos on the Las Vegas Strip. It also has a casino in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The newest casino under the company’s ownership is the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.
Through its Sands China subsidiary, LVS has numerous facilities in Macau. These include the Parisian Macao, Four Seasons Hotel Macao, the Plaza Macao, the Venetian Macao, Sands Cotai Central and the Sands Macao. This makes it the biggest casino company in the world.
LVS is always looking to expand into potentially lucrative markets. One of these burgeoning markets is Japan, where resort casinos are now legal. While the bidding process has yet to begin, there will be three resort casino licenses up for grabs in the near future. These would be massively lucrative to the operators that get their hands on them.
In 2017, the company was embroiled in a controversy concerning casinos in Japan. US President Donald Trump had a meeting with the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe.
According to some reports, Trump mentioned the potential merits of awarding the Las Vegas Sands group a license in Japan. While there was no confirmation of these reports, Adelson did meet Abe during his trip to the US, along with a number of other casino moguls.