Sheldon Adelson, the casino billionaire who has flooded US elections with money in order to protect his interests by banning online gambling, and has long been open about his desire to see an atomic bomb dropped on Iran, will soon be having his day in court.
Unfortunately for him, it will be in the US and not Macau as his defense had hoped.
A judge in Las Vegas has ruled that a lawsuit involving accusations of graft and organized crime ties to casinos owned by the multibillionaire and Republican party funder, Sheldon Adelson, will be heard in the US.
The decision raises the prospect of Adelson facing difficult questions about his business practices following allegations by a former chief executive of his highly profitable casinos in the Chinese enclave of Macau that a well-known triad crime figure was used to bring in high-rolling gamblers and of influence peddling with Chinese officials.
“Triad” refers to Chinese transnational criminal organizations. It seems the allegations relate to a certain Mr. Cheung Chi Tai, considered such a major figure in the Wo Hop To triad that he is barred from entry into the US.
Adelson told the court that “we had no direct relationship with Cheung Chi Tai”. But company documents show Cheung’s name on contracts involving “junket reps” who bring high rolling gamblers to the Macau casinos from China and lend them money to play.
So where do the allegations of graft come in?
Adelson now faces the prospect of a close examination of his relationship with a Macao lawyer and legislator, Leonel Alves. Adelson authorised $700,000 in legal fees to Alves which the company’s inhouse lawyers warned was far in excess of normal rates and could violate US law because Alves could be using his position as a legislator to influence officials in Macau and Beijing.
Steven Jacobs is the former CEO of Adelson’s operations in China suing for wrongful dismissal, claiming his firing was retaliation for his attempts to eliminate links to the triads and scrutinizing the payment to Alves. Adelson contends Jacobs was fired for incompetence and has accused him of “squealing like a pig to the government”.
Having this case heard in Macau would be advantageous to Adelson as that jurisdiction would be likely to limit revelations to protect its highly lucrative casino industry. A more robust hearing in the US could very well threaten his gaming licenses if ties to organized crime can be substantiated.
Adelson will almost certainly appeal, but it will be very interesting to observe how this developing situation impacts his involvement with politics. On one hand, The US and the world would be better off without this man’s pernicious influence on the body politic. On the other hand, the $20 million he spent propping up the farcical presidential campaign of Newt Gingrich likely played a role in damaging Mitt Romney, and ultimately getting President Obama easily reelected in 2012.
Las Vegas tycoon Sheldon Adelson to face graft accusations in US court - The Guardian