After two days of jury deliberations, the verdict is in: Las Vegas Sands (LVS) has to fork over $70 million in past due fees and accrued interest to one-time consultant and Hong Kong businessman Richard Suen for his role in getting LVS into the Macau gaming market at the start of the decade.
This judgment was the second time a court has ordered LVS to pay up their former consultant; the previous ruling in 2008, for $43.8 million, was later overturned by the Nevada Supreme Court. Looks like LVS should have just paid up then; now they have to pay almost double to account for amassed interest in the interim.
The current suit kicked off early this year, and ran for months before closing arguments were finally made in May. The suit has had plenty of newsworthy drama, including testimony from both Sheldon Adelson, the notorious LVS chairman, and his former company president William Weidner; between these two, apparently no love is now lost. Weidner left the LVS brand four years ago, and testified at the latest hearing that Adelson’s pugilistic nature, even during their original trial against Suen in 2008, was “injurious to relationships with China.” You might not discern that from the LVS Asia spreadsheets, but Weidner nonetheless says he “lost confidence” in his former boss’s decision-making abilities at that time.
More Suits Ongoing
In the litigious world of gaming, lawsuits are ubiquitous, and LVS is doing its share to keep gaming attorneys’ kids’ college tuition paid in full. Just one of several other existing suits for LVS in relation to its Asian operations is a wrongful termination suit brought by former Sands China CEO Steve Jacobs. This suit, in particular, has not helped Adelson’s case in his Suen suit, as all kinds of dirty laundry has been aired publicly throughout the course of the suit, giving various regulators and law enforcement that much more grist for the mill in eyeing LVS’ Asian dealings. Oy.
Adelson’s Mean Streak
The Sands’ CEO is not shy about suing people himself; earlier this year, he took a Wall Street Journal reporter to court for saying he was “foul-mouthed” (dare we insinuate this might possibly be true?) At $26.5 billion in estimated net worth, he can afford some pretty decent attorneys, but apparently not good enough to get him out of paying fired consultants what they’re owed. At least, not right now; a Sands spokesman has already issued an official company statement saying “there are compelling and sufficient grounds on which to appeal this verdict, and we will do so aggressively.”
Maybe the game plan is simply to keep appealing until they outlive Suen. At some point, the legal costs make it seem unbeneficial versus the cost of paying out with the ongoing interest, but Adelson might just be that spiteful.( If anyone asks, we didn’t say that.)