Sanum Investments, a subsidy of Lao Holdings NV, which formerly managed the Savan Vegas Hotel and Casino located in the Savannakhet Province of Laos, has successfully argued its legal case against the government of Laos regarding its claim that its casino business was unjustly cancelled, reports the Straits Times.
According to the report this week, the Court of Appeal ruled that Sanum is within its rights to seek redress under the bilateral investment treaty (BIT), which Laos and China signed in 1993 and Macau is included under, for capital investment benefit loss. The Savan Vegas Hotel & Entertainment Complex located along the Laos-Cambodia border was seized by the Laotian government in 2012. The government claimed that $23 million worth of back taxes and penalties was owed by Sanum.
Earlier this year, Savan Vegas (pictured), which is located on a 50-hectare property, was sold to Macau Legend Development Ltd (1680:HK) an investment holding company and one of the leading owners of entertainment and casino gaming facilities in Macau, for $42 million. However, in the interim Sanum continued its legal battle with the Laotian government resulting in an independent arbitration panel in Singapore ruling that the company had jurisdiction over the matter.
In its belief that the 1993 BIT wasn’t applicable to Macau due to the fact that the treaty predated the former Portuguese colony’s sovereignty transfer to China in December 1999, Laos submitted diplomatic letters exchanged between Chinese and Laotian diplomats. While the Singapore High Court was in agreement, the letters were dismissed by the Court of Appeal, claiming that the ‘moving treaty frontier’ (MTF) rule presumptively provides for the automatic extension of a treaty to a new territory as and when it becomes part of that State,” as quoted by the news agency.
In May this year, Sanum and its parent company Lao Holdings, filed two lawsuits over the sale of the Savan Vegas property. The first lawsuit was filed with an affiliate of the World Bank, which is the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes. The second lawsuit was filed with the United States District Court in Delaware. The lawsuit alleges that San Marco and Kelly Gass have no gaming management experience and failed to conduct an open bidding process for the sale of the property which would have resulted in substantially higher sale price for all the assets associated with the property.
Despite multiple lawsuits, early in September, the company which has two major properties, The Landmark Macau and Macau Fisherman’s Wharf , announced that it had assumed complete management and operational responsibilities for the Savan Vegas.