Las Vegas Sands Lawsuit with Businessman Settled After 15 Years

Cased closed with Las Vegas Sands
Las Vegas Sands has reached a settlement over a 15-year dispute with a Hong Kong businessman regarding the awarding of a casino license in Macau.

30-second summary:

  • A 15-year court case involving the Las Vegas Sands Corporation and a Hong Kong businessman has come to a close
  • The parties reached a settlement during the third trial of the case, which dates back to 2004
  • There has been no disclosure of the settlement sum, but the businessman is reportedly happy with the figure
  • Founder of the corporation is billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who was recently diagnosed with cancer

Details of the lawsuit

Global casino giant Las Vegas Sands Corporation and a businessman from Hong Kong have been locked in legal battle for 15 years. Businessman Richard Suen allegedly helped the corporation to get its first Macau casino to open.

At the third trial, both parties reached a settlement after a single day of testimony. The terms of the settlement are not public as per the confidentiality clause in the deal. However, as Suen left the courtroom in Las Vegas, he told the media that the case had been ongoing since 2004. He said it had been worth it, and that he gotten a “sense of justice”.

Suen’s case rested on the promise of a success fee worth $5m if Sands won the license in Macau. However, there was no written contract. He also was supposedly to get 2% of the profits from this casino during the length of the license, which is 18 years.

As per this verbal contract, Suen would stand to receive nearly $347m from the profits. He introduced company officials to key officials in China who were able to help with the awarding of the license.

The attorney for the Las Vegas Sands Corporation countered with an offer of $3.76m. He accused Suen of giving up on Sands back in 2001. The casino in Macau did not open until 2004.

Ending of the trial

Founder and owner of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, Sheldon Adelson has cancer and testified via video-link. The jury also viewed his testimony from the previous hearings in 2008 and 2013.

The juries’ financial judgments in those cases were $44m in the first trial and $70m in the second trial. The courts found that Sands would be held liable for these damages. However, in 2016 it was stated that a jury would need to hear further evidence before a final figure was arrived at.

The very quick conclusion of the trial came as a surprise to many as they thought it would last until mid April. The jury applauded when the settlement was announced.

The attorneys for both parties said it was a fair conclusion. Suen’s lawyer confirmed they would not be lodging an appeal and that they were happy with the payout.

Adelson’s illness

Sheldon Adelson is the founder and manager the Las Vegas Sands Corporation since many years. According to Forbes, he is the 15th wealthiest man globally, with a fortune of $33bn.

The corporation currently owns five Macau properties as well as properties in Singapore and the US, such as the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino. Adelson also has his hands in other businesses, such as the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Adelson is a significant donor to the Republican Party. He was the largest contributor to Republican Party candidates in both the 2012 and the 2016 presidential elections. This includes $30m donated to the Trump campaign. For the 2018 midterms, his donations were nearly $100m to the Party.

Now 85 years old, he has not been in the office for two months as he has cancer. A statement by the company said has a type of blood cancer called non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

Adelson is also embroiled in another recent controversy, in relation to the awarding of casino licenses in Japan. News outlet ProPublica alleged that President Trump lobbied on Adelson’s behalf during his meeting with the Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe in February 2017. Trump allegedly recommended that Las Vegas Sands Corporation be awarded one of the licenses.