A Macau court has confirmed that a 2009 U.S. court judgement – dismissing a claim for damages by a Taiwan businessman arguing he helped Las Vegas Sands Corp get a Macau gaming licence – can be applicable in Macau.
Las Vegas Sands now wants to use that decision to dismiss in full a similar case filed in Macau’s Court of First Instance (pictured) by Asian American Entertainment Corp (AAEC), a company led by the Taiwan entrepreneur, who goes by the name of Marshall Hao Shi-sheng.
Las Vegas Sands said in a New York filing on Monday that the claim for MOP3 billion (approximately US$375.7 million at exchange rates in effect on June 25, 2014) was being sought as “compensation for damages resulting from the alleged breach of agreements entered into between AAEC and the defendants for their joint presentation of a bid in response to the public tender held by the Macau government for the award of gaming concessions at the end of 2001”.
The filing states that in September last year, Las Vegas Sands filed a motion with the Macau Court of Second Instance, “seeking recognition and enforcement of a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling in a prior similar action filed by AAEC, given on April 10, 2009, the effect of which would be to dismiss AAEC’s claims” against the company in Macau.
Las Vegas Sands’ filing said a favourable decision was delivered on June 25, “which gave formal recognition to and allowed enforcement in Macau of the judgment of the U.S. Court of Appeals”.
AAEC has 10 days to appeal against the decision by Macau’s Court of Second Instance.
Macau court documents seen by GGRAsia confirm that the principle of the claims by AAEC is in fact scheduled for trial in the Court of First Instance, on a date still to be fixed.
Jorge Menezes, a Macau lawyer representing AAEC, declined to comment to GGRAsia on the detail of the case still to be tried in Macau. But he said: “The 2009 judgement did not lead to a full dismissal in the U.S., and would not lead to a full dismissal in Macau.”
Mr Menezes added: “Las Vegas Sands’ filing is inaccurate as it is not true that the effect of this judgment ‘would be to dismiss AAEC’s claims against the U.S. defendants’. The 2009 U.S. judgment dismissed the case regarding only part of the cause of action.”
He added: “My client is considering whether to take action in face of this inaccurate representation of the case in a filing of this nature.”
In January 2012, AAEC filed a lawsuit in Macau against Las Vegas Sands and some related entities. It claimed Las Vegas Sands and Mr Hao agreed in late 2001 to put forward a joint bid for Macau gaming rights with financial support from Taipei-based China Development Industrial Bank.
The lawsuit is one of three separate strands of litigation relating to Las Vegas Sands’ Macau gaming licence.
In a six-week trial that ended in mid-May 2013, a Clark County District Court jury in Nevada awarded Hong Kong businessman Richard Suen US$70 million for the work he said he did more than a decade ago to help Las Vegas Sands secure its gaming sub-concession in Macau.
Las Vegas Sands said after the judgement that it planned to appeal against the trial verdict. It was the second time that a Nevada jury had awarded Mr Suen damages, but the first award was overturned on a previous appeal.
In 2009, Las Vegas Sands agreed to pay US$42.5 million in an out of court settlement to Clive Bassett Jones, Dax Turok and Cliff Cheong. The men said they paired Las Vegas Sands into its joint venture with Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd, which won a gaming concession in 2002. Galaxy Entertainment and Las Vegas Sands split up later, but Las Vegas Sands was still allowed to operate in Macau, as a sub-concessionaire of Galaxy Entertainment.
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"I am not going to speculate on what the [casino licence refreshment] tender requirements would be. I have full confidence and faith in the Macau government to treat everyone fairly"
Wilfred Wong Ying Wai
President and chief operating officer of Macau-based casino operator Sands China