Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corporation, rumored to have had relationship for several years with infamous triad leader, Cheung Chi Tai.
Las Vegas casino magnate and a staunch supporter of the conservative party in the US, Sheldon Adelson, was in court last week, giving testimony in his implication in a ‘wrongful-termination’ lawsuit. The outcome of the hearing could well be his downfall. The pre-trial hearing follows the lawsuit instigated by Steven Jacobs, a former CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp., a lucrative operation in Macau, which is the only part of China where gambling is allowed.
Macau attracts gamblers worldwide, especially high-rollers, who avoided the Chinese government’s gambling and currency rules by gambling though junkets. The former executive accuses Adelson of wrongfully firing him at the end of 2010 because U.S. gambling laws made it illegal for him to continue paying off Chinese-elected officials, which he was being forced to do. Jacob also claims that Sheldon’s company has a long standing link with the Chinese mafia.
Potential fall of a giant
Adelson, 81, fired back that his CEO was released of his duties because of incompetence. The current hearing will decide if the trial should take place in Nevada, which is one of the most gambling-friendly states, or in Macau. Evidence backing Jacobs’ allegations of corruption and organized crime links, could serve to strengthen the federal investigation’s anti money laundering directives, into Adelson’s activities.
If the trial takes place in the United States, as requested by Jacobs’ lawyers, the link to Chinese organized crime (triads) could cause Sheldon’s dynasty to fall. This possibility comes in the wake of Adelson’s confirmation during an unrelated 2013 court proceeding in Las Vegas that his resorts had some triads’ influence. This evidence cannot be used against him in court in Macau. But in Nevada, a conviction of wrongdoing could see Adelson losing his casino licenses, which would destroy his empire, built on revenues generated by gambling.
If Adelson falls so will his charities
Adelson who is vehement against online gambling sites in US is rumored as being the 18th wealthiest person in the world and the 13th wealthiest in America, with a net worth of between USD 27.7 billion – USD 31.4 billion, depending on the sources. A government clampdown could mean less money going to many of the charities and newspapers and movements he supports.
These include Republican campaign donations, which amounted to more than USD 100 million in 2012 alone, as well as donations to cancer research, to Birthright Israel, which is totaled at USD 250 million over 10 years and the USD 33 million he spends annually to cover his newspaper the free Israeli daily he owns. Sheldon also backs the right-wing Zionist Organization of America, the Republican Jewish Coalition and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s This World Values Network.
Don’t get feisty with the judge, Sheldon!
According to US gambling news reports, the federal or state sanctions may or may not have any influence on the value of his holdings. But philanthropy experts pointed out that donations usually dwindle when the donors feel their wealth might be taken away from them. So far, on the witness stand, Adelson has come across as aggressive, sarcastic, dodging questions and often mocking Jacob’s attorneys.
Adelson has also dared to question the opposing counsel, has given a lecture to the court about ‘burden of proof’ and has put aside testimony given by other workers of his. He even had a falling out with judge Elizabeth Gonzalez who told him “Sir, you don’t get to argue with me.” 51 year-old Jacobs, was described by his former staff as being ‘a hard-driving executive while Adelson described Jacobs as having “hypnotized the lawyer” and said that Jacobs “never became important until he squealed like a pig to the government authorities and made up stories.”
Judge to decide where Jacobs lawsuit case should be held
Adelson wants the case tried in China claiming that his Macau’s operation that Jacobs ran was independent from Sands headquarters in Las Vegas. His Macau’s casinos do the biggest part of their business in so-called VIP rooms, which are private gambling parlors off the main floors reserved for high rollers. Adelson’s Sands China Ltd. became the casino haven’s biggest player and contributes to over half of Las Vegas Sands Corporation’s total revenue of USD 14.6 billion.
So if Adelson can squirm his way out of this one it may be a hey-day for the Republican presidential field, Netanyahu’s favorite newspaper, the ZOA, Birthright Israel or American and Israeli cancer research. However it up to Judge Gonzalez who will decide soon where the Jacobs lawsuit and then all will play out with the throw of a dice.