Alex Constantine - May 18, 2015
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Testimony by casino magnate may come back to hurt him if trial resumes in US court
Sheldon Adelson, the multibillionaire casino magnate, key Republican Party donor and owner of the Israeli daily Yisrael Hayom, found himself in a Las Vegas court over the last four days defending his casino empire from allegations of bribery and ties to organized crime in China.
By the time the hearing was over, Adelson had argued with the judge, contradicted the evidence of his own executives and frustrated his lawyers by revealing more information than he was required to in response to simple yes or no questions. But most importantly, far from laying the allegations against his Las Vegas Sands conglomerate to rest, the billionaire’s answers threw up yet more questions which he is likely to have to return to court to answer, according to the British-based daily The Guardian.
Accusations of misconduct arose after Adelson's former CEO Steven Jacobs filed a lawsuit alleging wrongful termination after he initiated efforts to break-off ties with organized crime figures and for attempting to halt the practice influence peddling with officials in the Chinese enclave of Macau.
Yet, what ostensibly appears to be a mere wrongful dismissal suit has steamrolled into a matter that could have far-reaching stakes for the aging casino magnate, made evident by the presence of Nevada gaming board officials observing the case from the public gallery.
During the preliminary hearing, Adelson accused Jacobs of “squealing like a pig to the government” and of blackmail in taking his accusations to the US authorities. They include the allegation that Las Vegas Sands paid what amounted to bribes intended to influence the Macau authorities and the government in Beijing and that the casino did business with a notorious underground figure, the Guardian added.
Details of the Macau operation provided by Jacobs to authorities has raised red flags in both the US Justice Department and federal financial regulators. If the allegations are proven to be true, Adelson could face severe penalties affecting his empire, namely the suspension of his gambling license, drastically hindering his revenue stream.
The question remains at the conclusion of Adelson's hearing as to whether the case should be heard in the US or Macau, which restricted prosecutors from asking further critical questions into Adelson's business practices.
However, if the the judge in the case determines that Adelson's case belongs in the US, then the 81-year old will face difficult questions elicited by his own testimony.