Sands CEO Adelson set to testify in Macau case

By Sue ZeidlerReuters

Las Vegas Sands Corp Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson will make a rare public appearance in a Nevada state court in early April as the lead witness in a breach-of-contract case brought against the casino operator by one-time consultant Richard Suen.

It will be Adelson's second appearance in the long-running case, in which Suen claims the gaming company did not pay him $5 million as promised for arranging meetings with key China government officials that helped pave the way for Sands' entry to the gambling district of Macau.

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A Nevada state court jury in 2008 previously ruled against Sands, awarding Suen $43.8 million in damages, plus interest.

That judgment was overturned by the Nevada Supreme Court three years ago due to what it deemed as errors by trial judge Michelle Leavitt in admitting testimony by former Sands President Bill Weidner.

In that trial, Weidner testified through a deposition that he agreed in 2001 to pay Suen $5 million fee, plus 2 percent of the casino revenue if his work led to securing a gaming license.

Sands currently operates four successful properties in Macau.

However, Las Vegas Sands contended Suen did nothing to earn the money, and that the gaming company arranged its license on its own.

Lawyers for both Suen and Sands are scheduled to argue Sands' motion for summary judgment on March 19.

A law clerk for Clark County District Judge Rob Bare confirmed that Adelson had been served with a summons to appear at the trial, set to start on April 3, after jury selection the previous week. Adelson is expected to face questioning by Suen's attorneys on April 4.

Bare allowed Adelson to delay his appearance until after Passover, which begins on March 26 and runs through April 2, to allow the Sands CEO to observe the holiday.

In June 2009, the company reached a $42.5 million settlement with three business associates who claimed they had assisted the company in receiving a gaming concession in Macau.

The former Portuguese enclave of Macau, about an hour away from Hong Kong by ferry and with a population of half a million, raked in $38 billion in annual gambling revenues last year. [ID:nL4N0B11VO] It is also the only place where people can legally gamble at casinos in China.

(Reporting by Susan Zeidler, editing by G Crosse)