Billionaire and Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson has spent a fourth day in a Las Vegas courtroom to determine whether a wrongful termination suit should be heard in the U.S. or Macau. In the proceedings Adelson will be defending himself and his Las Vegas Sands Corp against a lawsuit filed by his ex-Macau Casino CEO Steven Jacobs.
The court battle has turned messy as a lot of history has been unearthed and made public in the courtroom. Adelson who is used to controlling a multi-billion dollar empire across the world has now been placed in the hot seat and made to answer a number of uncomfortable questions.
Adelson has been accused by Jacobs of issuing orders to collect sensitive information on Chinese officials with the ostensible purpose of using that information as leverage at a later stage to blackmail those officials into granting favors that would benefit the Las Vegas Sands Macau operations. Adelson and his legal team have categorically denied all such accusations and painted Jacobs as a blackmailer and under-performer.
Adelson was caught off-guard on Tuesday when the prosecuting attorney asked him if he was aware of any plots to behead any of his employees. In the lawsuit Adelson was accused of doing business with Cheung Chi-tai, a Hong Kong businessman who runs a junket operation in Macau. Cheung was identified in 1992 by the U.S. Senate to be a key gang member and the Hong Kong appeals court in 2011 named him as the head of an organized crime syndicate who ordered the death of a Sands Macao casino dealer. (Cheung Chi-tai was never charged, but a subordinate was convicted of murder conspiracy).
In response to the line of questioning, Adelson said, “Your honor, Mr. Pisanelli is making erroneous — intentional but erroneous — statements that we were doing business with Chung Chi-tai. We were not doing business with Chung Chi-tai, therefore the question is completely inappropriate. If somebody is going to chop my employees’ heads off, of course I would be interested. But he wasn’t. And we weren’t doing business with him. It feeds their narrative of, ‘only Adelson is involved in wrongdoing, not Jacobs.'”
The judge informed Adelson that the question before him was whether, as chairman of Las Vegas Sands and Sands China Ltd., he would be aware of death threats against his employees.
In the complaint Jacobs alleges that his firing in Macau was orchestrated from Las Vegas – Adelson testified earlier that he was not aware of his exact location when he crafted a list of reasons to sack Jacobs with his second-in-command – making the question of jurisdiction difficult for the judge to determine.