Las Vegas Sands

Richard Suen wins US$70m from Las Vegas Sands in Macau dispute

Jury in Las Vegas awards businessman from HK for help over 2002 licence bid

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 May, 2013, 8:22am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am

Hong Kong businessman Richard Suen Chi-tat has been awarded US$70 million by a jury in the United States for his help in obtaining a Macau casino licence for Las Vegas Sands more than a decade ago.

The jury in Nevada returned a verdict on Tuesday in the second trial over Suen's claim that meetings he helped arrange for Sheldon Adelson, Las Vegas Sands's chairman, with government officials in Beijing were instrumental in Sands getting permission to operate casinos in Macau.

In 2010, the Nevada Supreme Court reversed a US$43.8 million jury award to Suen.

After the latest verdict, Ron Reese, a spokesman for the casino company, said: "We believe there are compelling and sufficient grounds on which to appeal this verdict and we will do so aggressively."

Adelson, 79, claimed during his trial testimony that Suen, a friend of his younger brother Lenny Adelson, contributed nothing to the company's being selected by the Macau government. Lawyers for Sands argued that the Macau government made its decisions independently from the central government in Beijing, which is legally prohibited from intervening in Macau's internal affairs.

Suen, 60, testified during the trial that he first alerted Sheldon Adelson in 2000 to the possibility that Macau would end the gambling monopoly that casino mogul Stanley Ho Hung-sun had enjoyed since 1962.

Suen claimed that the goodwill created with Chinese officials through the meetings he helped arrange in Beijing led the Macau government to select Sands.

After the verdict was read, Suen said: "I got justice from the people of Clark county," referring to the court district that includes Las Vegas. "I had faith in the justice system, and it turned out to be absolutely correct."

Sands was part of a bid by Galaxy Entertainment that won one of the three Macau concessions in 2002 and was given a subconcession later that year to build and operate its own casinos.

The firm gets about 58 per cent of its revenue from its Macau business. On May 2, Sands China reported first-quarter net income of US$452.9 million, a 63 per cent jump year on year.

Suen had sought US$328 million in damages, based on the 2 per cent of Sands' net income from its Macau casinos he said he was promised if the firm received a licence.