A former Macau business partner of Las Vegas Sands Corp has accused the casino operator of misappropriating trade secrets during the latter’s successful bid in 2002 for a casino licence in the city.
Asian American Entertainment Corp (AAEC), a company led by Taiwan entrepreneur Marshall Hao Shi-sheng, is suing the company for at least US$5 billion in profits that it says are owed via their joint ownership of copyright related to a casino licence bid.
AAEC filed the complaint in U.S. District Court in Nevada on July 9. The case is in addition to two separate, ongoing legal actions in Macau over alleged breach of contract.
AAEC claims in its latest filing that after Las Vegas Sands terminated its joint venture, the U.S.-based company submitted a near-identical replica of its previous submission with its new partner Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. Las Vegas Sands later asked the Macau government to be allowed to operate independently of Galaxy Entertainment, and was granted what technically was a sub-concession of Galaxy Entertainment’s concession.
“This is an action for money damages arising out of profits owed to plaintiff by Las Vegas Sands for use and benefit of the work which ultimately led to the Las Vegas Sands enterprise securing a Macau concessions contract,” AAEC said in its latest complaint.
“Asian American Entertainment brought access to capital for the development of the gaming resort, non-gaming economic investment opportunities and was very experienced in the Asian business markets and Macau in particular,” adds AAEC’s lawsuit.
Las Vegas Sands, in a statement on Friday, denied the claims.
“Using a different lawyer every time, AAEC has repeatedly filed lawsuits trying to take credit for that which they didn’t do,” the company said.
“U.S. courts have consistently rejected those efforts. Las Vegas Sands will respond to this latest version of the same meritless lawsuit in court,” added the casino firm.
On June 30 Las Vegas Sands said in a filing to Nasdaq in New York that a Macau court had confirmed that a 2009 U.S. court judgement – dismissing a separate claim for damages by AAEC arguing the firm helped Las Vegas Sands get a Macau gaming licence – can be applicable in Macau.
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“We expect Las Vegas Sands to not have any material change in strategy. The focus remains developing Macau and Singapore”
Vitaly Umansky, Kelsey Zhu and Tianjiao Yu
Analysts at brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein