Las Vegas Sands Corp Fined $2 Million by Nevada Regulators for Gaming License Violations

Posted on: May 13, 2016, 09:00h. 

Last updated on: May 13, 2016, 09:31h.

Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS) will pay $2 million in fines to Nevada regulators for two instances of violation of its gaming license. The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) filed its complaint on Wednesday, but had already agreed to a settlement with LVS, which will permit the gaming giant to “neither admit nor deny” the charges.

Sheldon Adelson LVS $2 million regulatory fine
CEO Sheldon Adelson is neither admitting nor denying anything, thanks to a $2 million regulatory settlement for his Las Vegas Sands Corp. with Nevada regulators. (Image: David Becker/ZUMA Press/Corbis)

The first count relates to the company’s apparent failure to document more than $62 million it paid to a Chinese consultant who helped “obscure the company’s role” in business deals in Macau and on the Chinese mainland. These included the purchase of property and a Chinese basketball team.

The NGCB filing came after a five-year investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) into whether LVS had been in breach of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which covers the bribing of foreign officials.

The SEC did not accuse LVS of bribery in its findings last April, but did fine the company $9 million for lax record keeping. LVS was also ordered to hire an independent consultant to monitor its operations in China and Macau for the next two years.

High Roller Not Reported

The second count also relates to a historical transgression: the accusation that a decade ago, LVS permitted one of its high rollers, Chinese-Mexican businessman Zhenli Ye Gon, to wager $47.4 million at the VIP gaming tables of the Venetian without filing a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR).

Ye Gon was arrested in 2007 for alleged international drug trafficking and remains incarcerated in the US, fighting extradition to Mexico.

In 2013, LVS paid the US Attorney’s office in Los Angeles the $47.4 million Ye Gon had blown at the casino in order to settle the complaint that it had violated anti-money laundering laws.

No Judge Disqualification

Meanwhile, in other news, LVS was unsuccessful this week in its fourth attempt to have a Las Vegas judge disqualified from the longstanding wrongful dismissal case of former Sands China CEO Steven Jacobs.

LVS accuses Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez of “disparate treatment of the parties, disparate treatment of issues, and outright hostility to the defendants in this case” and of having a “long history of one-sided, erroneous and erratic rulings.”

The Nevada Supreme Court found no cause to justify the claims.

Jacobs sued LVS in 2010, claiming he was dismissed for trying to blow the whistle on alleged company improprieties in Macau, which, he alleges, included the bribing of public officials.

Adelson-Owned Review-Journal Reports Story

Both of these somewhat negative LVS news stories, incidentally, have been reported this week by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Las Vegas newspaper purchased, initially secretly, by LVS Chairman Sheldon Adelson late last year.

Several weeks ago, popular longtime RJ columnist John L. Smith resigned from the paper after it emerged that he had been prohibited from writing about Adelson. This prompted concerns that other journalists may also be muzzled when covering LVS affairs.

That does not appear to be the case, at least on the surface, although staff members are still abandoning ship in steady numbers. With the departure this week of reporter Jennifer Robinson, all three journalists who broke the story that revealed the identity of the mystery owner have now left the company, reportedly voluntarily.