Ex-partner claims breach of contract in Venetian deal
Las Vegas Sands faces a three billion pataca lawsuit from a former partner in Macau, claiming breach of contract by the American resort company before securing its gaming licence a decade ago.
Former Las Vegas Sands business partner Asian American Entertainment claims it helped the company break into the Macau market - even providing the idea for its landmark Venetian-themed casino - only to have it cut ties before winning a gambling concession in February 2002.
The Macau-based Asian American is controlled by Shi Sheng Hao, a Taiwanese businessman also known as Marshall Hao. The company said Las Vegas Sands, which is led by gaming mogul Sheldon Adelson, dissolved the partnership and teamed up with a unit of Hong Kong-based Galaxy Entertainment.
According to summaries of original casino plans seen by the South China Morning Post, Galaxy Casino's proposal for what would become The Venetian Macao was virtually identical to the casino pitched by Asian American.
Both talked about a casino modelled after the one in Las Vegas involving an investment of US$1.1 billion and convention and exhibition space and other facilities.
Jorge Menezes, Asian American's attorney in Macau, said that Asian American's proposal had been 'unlawfully' passed to another tender applicant, and described the executive summaries by Asian American and Galaxy as 'a shocking carbon copy of each other'.
A spokesman for Las Vegas Sands was not available for comment.
Asian American previously sued Sands for breach of contract in a court in the US state of Nevada, but the case was dismissed in 2010 because the court believed it did not have jurisdiction. The company then brought the case to Macau, which is now the world's biggest gaming hub and the only part of China, where gambling is legal.
Menezes declined to comment on the details of the new case, but said Asian American has complained of breach of contract since early 2002.
The Macau suit is the latest of several legal challenges to Adelson's company over its efforts to develop gaming resorts in Macau.
'Dr Hao is sorely disappointed with unfulfilled agreements and promises and is unrelentingly willing to fight for Asian American's rights whatever it takes,' Menezes said.
The annual profit, in US dollars, reported by Sands China earlier this month, a 70 per cent increase on 2010