The Las Vegas Sands Corp. and its chairman, Sheldon Adelson, were sued by a former potential partner in a casino venture for as much USD5 billion over claims of trade-secret theft.
The Asian American Entertainment Corporation Limited (AAECL) claims that it is owed money for a joint ownership of copyright related to a casino license bid. According to the July 9 complaint in a federal court in Las Vegas, the chairman of Asian American Entertainment, Taiwanese businessman Shi-Sheng “Marshall” Hao, negotiated an agreement with Adelson, Sands’ majority shareholder, in 2001 to win a Macau gaming concession in 2002.
Asian American Entertainment alleges that Sands terminated the joint venture and instead teamed up with Hong Kong group Galaxy Entertainment.
According to the complaint, Sands submitted a near-identical replica of its previous submission with new partner Galaxy. The document contained a plan to profit from temporary resorts, market research, business models and a list of architects to be used, according to the complaint. Divulging that information was “a complete betrayal of trust and a misappropriation of a proprietary document whose contents were clear trade secrets,” reads the complaint.
Jorge Menezes, who represents Asian American Entertainment in Macau (see box), gave confirmation to the Times that he had obtained an unseen copy of the Galaxy tender submission’s subsequent proposal.
“When I started reviewing Galaxy’s proposal I immediately realized that I was in fact reading AAECL’s proposal disguised under Galaxy’s name. I couldn’t believe my eyes: it was bluntly identical to AAECL’s except for a few minor details. My client felt further betrayed by the partner he invited and trusted.”
Menezes declined to comment on the details of the lawsuits.
Ron Reese, a Sands spokesman, reacted to AAECL’s allegations. “Using a different lawyer every time, AAEC[L] has repeatedly filed lawsuits trying to take credit for that which they didn’t do,” he replied to Bloomberg via email. “Las Vegas Sands will respond to this latest version of the same meritless lawsuit in court.”
Las Vegas Sands’ earlier dealings in Macau have motivated several lawsuits. The gaming operator was ordered to pay USD70 million Hong Kong businessman Richard Suen last year, after he won a trial over his claims that he helped the casino operator to obtain a gaming license in Macau
Another case involved Steven Jacobs, who sued Sands in 2010 after being fired as Sands China chief executive officer. Jacobs is suing for wrongful termination of his contract. MDT/Agencies
Two pending legal actions in macau
The case is in addition to two separate pending legal proceedings in Macau over an alleged breach of contract, according to Reuters. In both lawsuits, Asian American Entertainment accuses Sands of breaking agreements related to a bid for the Macau government’s award of gaming concessions in 2001. “The cause of action in the Nevada and the Macau lawsuits are different. The Nevada lawsuit does not prevent the Macau lawsuit’s progress,” Jorge Menezes told the Times.