Skip to content

Gingrich-backing billionaire’s casino empire facing criminal probe

SAN FRANCISCO/MACAU, China (Reuters) – It’s never good for the candidate when a big donor runs afoul of the law – as President Barack Obama learned this week: his campaign returned large donations from Chicago’s Cardona brothers after it was reported that a third brother is a fugitive from U.S. drug and fraud charges.

Some Republican candidates for president could find themselves similarly embarrassed if criminal investigations against casino mogul Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act come to fruition before November.

Probes by the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commissionfocus on the casino company’s operations in Macau, the world’s biggest gambling hub, court documents show. A former executive in Adelson’s empire, whose allegations are believed to be central to the probe, cites potential illegal dealings with a public official, as well as a tie to an organized crime figure.

Adelson and his wife single-handedly propped up Newt Gingrich’s campaign with $10 million Super PAC donations in January, and Adelson recently signaled he would write big checks to Mitt Romney, too, if he wins the nomination.

As he’s seized the role of kingmaker, press accounts of the normally reclusive Adelson have focused on his politics: He is a passionate supporter of Israel, his wife is Israeli, and he recently said his teenage son might return to the country to become a sniper in the Israel Defense Forces.

Far less notice has been paid to the fact that his company is the target of both a federal criminal investigation and a civil lawsuit by the former chief of China operations of Las Vegas Sands. He alleges improprieties at the global casino enterprise that has made Adelson, with about $22 billion, the world’s 16th richest man.

Steve Jacobs, the fired former head of Sands’ Macau operations, Sands China, filed a lawsuit in Nevada in 2010 for breach of contract, and is now working with the U.S. government on its corruption investigations. In a December 27 filing in the case, Jacob’s attorney said Jacobs was protected under whistleblower statutes for participating in SEC and DOJ criminal investigations into Sands.

“The United States Government has two ongoing investigations against LVSC and Jacobs is entitled to certain protections as a person cooperating in those investigations,” the filing says.

“It is no secret that the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (‘SEC’) and the United States Department of Justice (‘DOJ’) are investigating Las Vegas Sands (and its various subsidiaries, including Sands China) related to alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act,” it adds.

The SEC and the Justice Department declined to comment.

Sands China is now a separately traded company in which Las Vegas Sands has the majority stake. Adelson is chairman and chief executive of Las Vegas Sands and he and his family own 47 percent of the company.

In court documents in the case brought by Jacobs, Las Vegas Sands acknowledges having worked with a figure named in a Hong Kong court as an organized crime boss, who was said to be actively involved in running one of the lucrative VIP rooms at theSands Macau. In addition, Jacobs alleges that Sands put a Macau public official on its payroll, creating a potentially illegal conflict of interest under U.S. law. He also claims that the Sands investigated Macau government officials looking for dirt to use against them.

Adelson has not been charged by federal investigators. Sands previously has said neither the SEC nor the Department of Justice has accused it of wrongdoing and described the SEC move as a “fact-finding inquiry.” The Jacobs lawsuit has a long way to go in Nevada court. And Adelson’s denial of all charges in that suit was characteristically blunt.

“When we win the case, we will go after him in a way that he won’t forget because none of what he says is true and he can’t prove it,” quoted Adelson as saying last November. Adelson declined to be interviewed for this article, and a spokesman declined to comment beyond statements to the court.


Adelson rose from poverty in Boston to great wealth in Las Vegas by taking big risks. His first major score was to see that Las Vegas could be a convention center as well as a leisure destination. He started COMDEX, the first big tech convention, and built a private convention facility. Then he continued to expand his Sands company – now the most valuable publicly traded U.S. casino empire, worth about $42 billion – in the depth of the 2008-2009 recession.

His next big gamble was Macau, a former Portuguese colony known for its seedy gambling halls and bloody gangster turf wars, an hour’s boat ride from Hong Kong. When China opened up its gambling sector to foreign casino operators in 2001, Adelson was quickest off the mark, building the Sands Macau and ushering in an era of staggering growth and Las Vegas glitz to a once stilted sector. Gambling-mad mainland Chinese punters poured into the city, and revenues skyrocketed beyond Las Vegas.

Adelson later made another big bet in the southern Chinese gambling hub, staking his fortune on the Venetian Macau, a massive resort casino on reclaimed former swampland, that his rivals initially scoffed at.

The Cotai Strip since has become a luxury destination, with five-star hotels, a convention center, and designer shops with some of the highest sales in the world, as rivals like Wynn and MGM continue to scramble to secure now highly prized plots in the area.

The Vegas-style renovation did not clear away Macau’s criminal past, though. Traditionally, junket operators, who deliver high rollers to the casinos and recover debts from punters, were controlled by organized crime groups known as triads.

In State Department cables obtained by Wikileaks and released to Reuters through a third party, U.S. diplomats in 2009 reported the American casino companies’ “unease about the earnings power, influence on government, and organized crime connections of Macau’s junket operators. The junkets ‘manage’ players who account for approximately 70 percent of all casino betting volume in Macau.”

Macau’s chief gambling regulator, Manuel Joaquim das Neves, at the time told U.S. officials – according to the Wikileaks cables – “we forgive small crimes” when licensing junket operators. “If you make hard rules in the beginning, no one applies,” he said.

In an interview this week Neves told Reuters that his commission did not tolerate organized crime influence at casinos. But when asked specifically whether there was still some triad influence on junkets at American casinos, he said, “I don’t know, probably. We live in Macau.”

Moreover, as recently as last week Las Vegas Sands’ President of Global Gaming Operations, Rob Goldstein, told investors on a conference call, that they were pursuing junket business in China. “We’re doing better in the junket segment,” he said. “We got a lot of room to move there.” A Sands spokesman declined to comment on triad influence in junkets.

The Sands company last year acknowledged in the civil lawsuit that it had done business with a man identified in Hong Kong court as a triad leader, Cheung Chi-tai. Sands said it investigated the alleged crime boss after the Reuters 2010 special report highlighted the tie, and that it then severed the relationship. Jacobs in court papers says Adelson himself was aware of the relationship before Sands’ investigation.

Cheung’s current whereabouts are unknown.

Jacobs has also claimed in that suit that Adelson told him to hire a Macau public official, Leonel Alves, who was listed as Sands China’s counsel for more than a year. Paying a public official in any capacity raises questions of bribery under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Sands in court papers denied illegal activity. Michael Leven, now Las Vegas Sands President and Chief Operating Officer, acknowledged to the Macau Daily Times that Alves advised the government. “When we deal with an individual that is a Government official – Alves is also a member of the Executive Council, an advising body to the local government – we have to follow the rules of the U.S.. So we are working our way through that,” Leven said in 2010.

Jacobs further alleged that Adelson personally demanded secret investigations of Macau officials, “so that any negative information obtained could be used to exert ‘leverage’ in order to thwart government regulations/initiatives viewed as adverse to LVSC’s (Las Vegas Sands Corporation’s) interests.”

These investigations included current and past leaders of the Macau government -Edmund Ho, his successor Fernando Chui Sai-on, who is still the chief, and others – according to an August 2010 letter from Jacobs’ lawyer demanding that Sands save information on investigations into those people. The company described the investigation as a rogue move by Steve Jacobs, and Adelson has accused Jacobs of lying to extort payment from his former employer.

Meanwhile, some political analysts say the size of the Adelson family’s checks to Republican candidates could make the Sands’ legal problems a campaign issue, if wrongdoing were proven. “It really now makes it imperative that no sign of scandal be traced back to the source of that large contribution,” said Henry Brady, head of thePublic Policy School at the University of California, Berkeley.

(Reporting By Peter Henderson and James Pomfret; Editing by Lee Aitken and Claudia Parsons)

Photo: Flickr user iotae.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Posted in Politics.

Tagged with , , .

0 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

Some HTML is OK

or, reply to this post via trackback.

Support #altnews & keep Dark Politricks alive

Remember I told you over 5 years ago that they would be trying to shut down sites and YouTube channels that are not promoting the "Official" view. Well it's all happening now big time. Peoples Channels get no money from YouTube any more and Google is being fishy with their AdSense giving money for some clicks but not others. The time is here, it's not "Obama's Internet Cut Off Switch" it's "Trumps Sell Everyones Internet Dirty Laundry Garage Sale". This site must be on some list at GCHQ/NSA as my AdSense revenue which I rely on has gone down by a third. Either people are not helping out by visiting sponsors sanymore or I am being blackballed like many YouTube sites.

It's not just Google/YouTube defunding altenative chanels (mine was shut), but Facebook is also removing content, shutting pages, profiles and groups and removing funds from #altnews that way as well. I was recently kicked off FB and had a page "unpublished" with no reason given. If you don't know already all Facebooks Private Messages and Secret Groups are still analysed and checked for words related to drugs, sex, war etc against their own TOS. Personally I know there are undercover Irish police moving from group to group cloning peoples accounts and getting people booted. Worse than that I know some people in prison now for the content they had on their "secret private group". Use Telegrams secret chat mode to chat on, or if you prefer Wickr. If you really need to, buy a dumb phone with nothing for the NSA/GCHQ to hack into. Ensure it has no GPS tracking on it and that the battery can be removed. These are usually built for old people to get used to technology storing only a set of numbers to call. However they have no games, applications to install or other ways people can exploit the computer tracking device you carry round with you most of the day - your smart phone. If you are paranoid ensure that you can remove the battery when travelling around and do so to prevent GPS tracking or phone mast triangulation. Even with your phone in Flight mode or turned off, it can be turned on remotely and any features like front or back cameras, microphones and keylogging software can be installed to trace you.

So if your not supporting this site already which brings you news from the Left to the Right (really the same war mongering rubbish) then I could REALLY do with some..

Even if it's just £5 or tick the monthly subscription box and throw a few pound my way each month, it will be much appreciated. Read on to find out why.


Any support to keep this site would be appreciated. You could set up a monthly subscription for £2 like some people do or you could pay a one off donation as a gift.
I am not asking you to pay me for other people's articles, this is a clearing house as well as place to put my own views out into the world. I am asking for help to write more articles like my recent false flag gas attack to get WWIII started in Syria, and Trump away from Putin. Hopefully a few missiles won't mean a WikiLeaks release of that infamous video Trump apparently made in a Russian bedroom with Prostitutes. Also please note that this article was written just an hour after the papers came out, and I always come back and update them.

If you want to read JUST my own articles then use the top menu I have written hundreds of articles for this site and I host numerous amounts of material that has seen me the victim of hacks, DOS plus I have been kicked off multiple hosting companies, free blogging sites, and I have even had threats to cease and desist from the US armed forces. Therefore I have to pay for my own server which is NOT cheap. The more people who read these article on this site the more it costs me so some support would be much appreciated.

I have backups of removed reports shown, then taken down after pressure, that show collusion between nations and the media. I have the full redacted 28/29 pages from the 9.11 commission on the site which seems to have been forgotten about as we help Saudi Arabia bomb Yemeni kids hiding in the rubble with white phosphorus, an illegal weaapon. One that the Israeli's even used when they bombed the UN compound in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead. We complain about Syrian troops (US Controlled ISIS) using chemical weapons to kill "beautiful babies". I suppose all those babies we kill in Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Syria are just not beautiful enough for Trumps beautiful baby ratio. Plus we kill about 100 times as many as ISIS or the Syrian army have managed by a factor of about 1000 to 1.

I also have a backup of the FOX News series that looked into Israeli connections to 9.11. Obviously FOX removed that as soon as AIPAC, ADL and the rest of the Hasbra brigade protested.

I also have a copy of the the original Liberal Democrats Freedom Bill which was quickly and quietly removed from their site once they enacted and replaced with some watered down rubbish instead once they got into power. No change to police tactics, protesting or our unfair extradition treaty with the USA but we did get a stop to being clamped on private land instead of the mny great ideas in the original.

So ANY support to keep this site running would be much appreciated! I don't have much money after leaving my job and it is a choice between shutting the server or selling the domain or paying a lot of money just so I can show this material.

Material like the FSB Bombings that put Putin in power or the Google no 1 spot when you search for protecting yourself from UK Police with "how to give a no comment interview". If you see any adverts that interest you then please visit them as it helps me without you even needing to give me any money. A few clicks per visit is all it takes to help keep the servers running and tag any tweets with alternative news from the mainstream with the #altnews hashtag I created to keep it alive!

However if you don't want to use the very obvious and cost free ways (to you) to help the site and keep me writing for it then please consider making a small donation. Especially if you have a few quid sitting in your PayPal account doing nothing useful. Why not do a monthly subscription for less money instead. Will you really notice £5 a month?