A foreign division of Las Vegas Sands is under investigation by two federal agencies for possible bribery. The investigations are based on statements made by a former executive with Sands China Ltd in his wrongful termination lawsuit against the company. The former executive, who led Sands China’s Macau operations, says that the company had an inappropriate relationship with a politically connected attorney in Macau.
Specifically, the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission are examining three financial transactions to see if they violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits American companies from bribing foreign officials. The transactions in question are a $50 million payment for development of a business development center that never opened; a contract for ferry service between Macau and Hong Kong; and sponsorship of a team in the Chinese basketball league. Sands is also conducting an internal investigation of the legitimacy of the transactions, according to news reports.
The plaintiff in the wrongful termination litigation says he was fired after questioning Sands’ relationship with the Macau attorney, who may have been involved in each deal. An article about the case did not mention how much he is seeking in damages.
Headquartered in Paradise, Nevada, Sands Las Vegas owns two hotel-casinos on the Strip, the Venetian and the Palazzo, as well as two in Macau, making that Chinese territory a key part of the company’s operations. The Venetian stands on the grounds of the famed Sands Hotel, which the company tore down in 1996.
Source: Reuters, “Sands China deals probed by U.S. for possible bribery violations: WSJ,” Lee Chyen Yee, Aug. 9, 2012
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