U.S.-based casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp has seen a Macau court deny the firm a motion to dismiss a claim for damages by a Taiwan businessman who argues he helped Las Vegas Sands Corp get a Macau gaming licence, says Reuters.
The news agency reported that, in a filing dated March 16, Macau’s Court of First Instance stated that Asian American Entertainment Corp (AAEC) – a company led by the Taiwan entrepreneur, named as Marshall Hao Shi-sheng – could proceed with a lawsuit against Las Vegas Sands for allegedly breaking the terms of what Mr Hao’s side said was a former partnership agreement.
A date for trial of the matter in the Court of First Instance is still is to be scheduled, Jorge Menezes, a Macau lawyer representing AAEC, told Reuters.
Las Vegas Sands told the news agency: “The company has consistently maintained that this case has no merit. We have confidence that ultimately the Macau judicial process will reach the same conclusion.”
Las Vegas Sands is the parent company of Macau-based casino operator Sands China Ltd.
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 claim is for MOP3.0 billion (US$375.6 million) as compensation for damages, according to Las Vegas Sands’ 2015 annual report, issued in February.
AAEC had filed a similar lawsuit against Las Vegas Sands with the U.S. District Court in Nevada, but the firm withdrew the case in late 2014. The lawsuit against Las Vegas Sands was claiming intellectual ownership of as much as 72.5 percent of the US$20 billion-plus profits the plaintiff estimated the gaming operator had made in Macau since the award of its gaming rights there in 2002.
At a minimum, the Nevada suit from AAEC asked for US$5 billion from Las Vegas Sands, with pre-judgement and post-judgement interest.
The AAEC case is one of three separate strands of litigation relating to Las Vegas Sands’ Macau gaming licence. The firm is also disputing claims by Hong Kong businessman Richard Suen that he helped Las Vegas Sands secure its gaming licence in Macau. The case is being brought to trial in the United States.
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 helped Las Vegas Sands link – via a joint venture – with Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. The latter won a Macau gaming concession in 2002. Galaxy Entertainment and Las Vegas Sands went their separate ways later, but Las Vegas Sands was still allowed to operate casinos 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