Las Vegas Sands Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson said on Thursday a Hong Kong businessman claiming in a lawsuit that he is owed $328 million didn’t help the gaming company get permission from the Macau government to operate a casino there.
Richard Suen alleges the Las Vegas company stiffed him on an agreed upon “success fee” for helping secure a permit for a hotel and casino in Macau, a Chinese special administrative territory that has become the world’s most lucrative gambling mecca.
“He couldn’t deliver and he wanted to keep his fingers in the pie,” the 79-year-old Adelson testified in a Las Vegas court. “Once he couldn’t, he wanted to get his fee and offered other services,” such as public relations and arranging financing, said Adelson.
Adelson, who entered the courthouse on a motorized scooter and looked frail and unsteady as he walked to the witness stand with the aid of a cane, nearly caused a mistrial by presenting promotional brochures for his convention business that hadn’t been cleared to be introduced into evidence.
Adelson produced the brochures in court despite instructions from his legal team not to bring them, his lawyer Richard Sauber said. Adelson was using the brochures to show that Sands didn’t need Suen’s help in marketing.
Sands has become one of the world’s most profitable casino companies over the past decade, largely on the strength of its Macau operations.
But the company faces allegations from Suen and from its former China CEO, Steve Jacobs, who has also filed a lawsuit against Las Vegas Sands for wrongful dismissal. Jacobs alleges that Adelson demanded he conduct “secret investigations” into the finances of Macau government officials in order to “exert leverage.”
Adelson has denied Jacobs’s allegations.
The company said in financial filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it “intends to defend this matter vigorously.”