Carlos Lobo, a legal aide to the Macau Gaming Commission in 2001 and 2002 when it weighed bids for casino concessions, spoke in court on Wednesday during the third full day of a trial to determine whether Asian American Gaming Corp is entitled to the equivalent of US$12-billion compensation because of the role it claimed it had in Las Vegas Sands Corp getting a Macau permit.
Mr Lobo was called on by the Las Vegas Sands side for the hearing at Macau’s Court of First Instance.
Part of the courtroom discussion returned to a topic from the first two days of the trial: when exactly the two firms severed ties. Asian American claims Las Vegas Sands was dealing with an alternative partner for a Macau bid, at a time when Las Vegas Sands’ partnership contract with Asian American was still in force.
Las Vegas Sands had initially linked with Asian American for Macau’s licence-tender process. But the U.S. casino group later switched to a partnership with Galaxy Casino SA, before being allowed to go it alone via a sub-concession arrangement spun off from the Galaxy licence.
Mr Lobo was asked about a February 1, 2002 letter from a Las Vegas Sands entity to the Macau Gaming Commission, informing the latter of the split from Asian American.
The judge in the Macau trial, Seng Yoi Man, asked about that in court. In particular, the judge wanted to know why a final report on the bidding process, written by the Macau Gaming Commission, had mentioned that Asian American and Las Vegas Sands had parted ways on January 15, 2002.
Mr Lobo said the team drafting the concluding report “must have had a supporting document” regarding the January 15 date, but did not mention specific details.
In the morning court session, a lawyer for Asian American, Jorge Menezes, had argued unsuccessfully that Mr Lobo was not an appropriate witness, as from 2010 to 2015 he had worked as an in-house counsel for the Macau operation of Las Vegas Sands, Venetian Macau SA, the entity that holds the Macau licence.
Mr Lobo had told the court however that while in that work, he had declined a request to handle Las Vegas Sands’ defence of Asian American’s lawsuit. He stressed that at that time he had no participation in that case, nor any “direct or indirect” access to documents related to the case.
The trial resumes on July 1.
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”The notion that somehow the Macau gaming companies can be used by China as negotiating pawns in a geopolitical negotiation with the U.S. is definitely without merit”
Vitaly Umansky, Louis Li and Kelsey Zhu
Analysts at brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd