Las Vegas Sun

September 19, 2019

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Las Vegas Sands disputes businessman’s role in landing Macau contract


Left: Plaintiff Richard Suen appears in District Court Thursday, April 17, 2008. Right: Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman Sheldon Adelson gives testimony during the a trial resulting from a lawsuit by Suen. (Photos by Leila Navidi/Las Vegas Sun)

CARSON CITY – An attorney for Hong Kong businessman Richard Suen says his services to Las Vegas Sands Corp. were worth more than $48 million in helping to clear the way for the company to build two casinos in the lucrative Macau market.

Suen attorney Todd Bice told the Nevada Supreme Court on Thursday that Sands chairman Sheldon Adelson once offered the businessman $100 million. The offer, however, was withdrawn because of concerns about regulations from the Nevada Gaming Control Board and the Internal Revenue Service.

But Sands attorney David Frederick, Adelson and former Sands President William Weidner argued Suen “did virtually nothing” to aid the Las Vegas company in getting a gaming permit from the Macau government.

Frederick is asking the state’s high court to reverse a Clark County District Court verdict and grant a judgment in favor of Sands, order a new trial or reduce the amount of the award.

A Las Vegas jury spent 29 days in 2008 hearing evidence and decided to award $43.8 million to Suen. With prejudgment interest, the payment now would be $58.6 million.

Former justices Bob Rose and Miriam Shearing sat in Thursday for Chief Justice Ron Parraguirre and Justice Kristina Pickering, who had disqualified themselves.

Bice said Sands executives were the ones who sought help from Suen, a 30-year businessman. They said Suen arranged “incredible meetings” with the vice premier of China. From that meeting, Sands was awarded the franchise for two casinos by Macau’s Chief Executive Edmund Ho, Bice said.

Bice said Suen never met Ho but he contends Suen and his friends helped to advance Sands’ proposal.

“(Suen) introduced them to the right people,” Bice argued.

Frederick told the court that China didn’t interfere in Macau affairs related to the gaming matter. There was no evidence at trial that the vice premier of China sought to use his influence in behalf of Sands, he said.

Macau is a “special administrative region” of China and the law forbids China from interfering in the Macau government except on issues of foreign affairs and national defense.

Frederick outlined Nevada’s law on “unjust enrichment.” In this case, he said, there was no formal contract between Sands and Suen.

Bice said, however, there was a “legal relationship” between the two.

Sands, which owns the Sands Expo and Convention Center and the Venetian and Palazzo hotel-casinos in Las Vegas, also owns the Sands Macao and the Venetian Macao.

Frederick told the court that Clark County District Judge Michelle Leavitt, who presided at the 2008 trial, should not have permitted into evidence the offer of $100 million to Suen.

Asked by the court if he thought Suen was worth $48 million, Bice replied he is worth more than $48 million and Sheldon Adelson offered him $100 million for his help.

The court will rule later.

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