A Macau court was told on Friday that a US$12-billion claim against United States-based casino group Las Vegas Sands Corp (LVS) and some of its units, over alleged help securing its Macau gaming rights, was “exaggerated”, and not justified purely in accounting terms.
Lawyers for Asian American Entertainment Corp Ltd, a company led by Taiwan businessman Marshall Hao, argue it is entitled to MOP96.45 billion (US$12.06 billion) in compensation. The sum represents allegedly-lost profits for Asian American from 2004 to 2018 due to what it claims it is owed by Las Vegas Sands.
But Dave Sun Minqi, senior vice president and chief financial officer of Las Vegas Sands’ Macau licence-holding entity, Venetian Macau Ltd, a unit of Hong Kong-listed Sands China Ltd, told the court such calculation had been based on the “operating profit” in Macau.
It was not a “complete consideration” of the group’s capital expenditures in the Macau market and the associated depreciation and amortisation costs, said Mr Sun.
Mr Sun said his understanding was that Asian American’s claim was based on Venetian Macau Ltd’s financial statements submitted yearly to the city’s casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau.
The executive said that to date, the group’s aggregate capital spending in Macau was US$15 billion, i.e., MOP120 billion. It went on the development and operation of: Sands Macao, located on Macau peninsula; and the Venetian Macao, the Parisian Macao; the Four Seasons Macao suites, and the still under-development Londoner Macao, located in Cotai.
Mr Sun has said in Friday’s hearing, that Asian American’s claim was “exaggerated” in that it also failed to account for Venetian Macau Ltd’s interest payment expenses and taxation-related items for its Macau operations. Asian American had also not considered “management fees” the Macau operating entity had to pay the parent Las Vegas Sands, as well as the “licensing fees” and “development fees” over a percentage of project costs.
Venetian Macau Ltd had also seen “huge losses” in 2020, and so far this year, due to the impact of Covid-19 pandemic said Mr Sun. The firm had also had losses during the years 2002 to 2004; and in 2008 and 2009, the period of the global financial crisis, said Mr Sun in response to a question by a lawyer for the Las Vegas Sands side, Luis Cavaleiro de Ferreira, of CFS – Luís Cavaleiro de Ferreira, Ricardo Silva & Associados.
Asian American is being represented by Jorge Menezes, of FCLaw Lawyers & Private Notaries.
Mr Sun has been working at Venetian Macau Ltd since 2007. He told the Friday session that he had also been responsible for handling the Macau operation’s financial statements for 2002 to 2007 for Sands China, as required for its Hong Kong listing in 2009.
On October 8 and October 11, the court heard from David Green, part of a consulting team from accountancy firm Arthur Andersen LLC, hired by the city’s government to advise on casino-market liberalisation nearly two decades ago.
The case, which started in June, continues.
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Macau’s Public Prosecutions Office