Las Vegas Sands Pays $6.96 Million to SEC and Justice Department to End 2011 Probes
The Las Vegas Sands paid nearly $7 million to U.S. authorities to end 5-year investations by a pair of federal agencies. In 2011, The SEC and Justice Department each launched a probe into the Las Vegas Sands relationship to a consultant in China and Macau.
The investigations looked into $60 million paid by Sheldon Adelson’s casino company to an unnamed agent in CHina. The payments were to help LVS acquire a Chinese basketball team, while pursuing real estate deals in Beijing and the Cotai Strip in Macau. Spokesmen for the US Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation said the $6.96 million fine officials ends both probes.
SEC Fines Paid by Las Vegas Sands
In April 2016, Las Vegas Sands made a $9 million civil payment to the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC’s investigation found that some of the paymetns were not authorized or documented, which is a violation of US federal law.
Though it was assessed fines, Las Vegas Sands was not charged with a crime in either case. In paying those fines, LVS did not admit guilt in either case.
Ron Reese Gives Statement
Instead, LVS spokesman Ron Reese said the payment, which was made last Thursday, was a “monetary penalty“. Reese also noted that the payment followed a nonprosecution agreement, so no criminal finding was made. He added that “all inquiries related to these issues have now been completely resolved.”
Ron Reese said in his statement, “The company is pleased that its cooperation and long-term commitment to compliance were recognized in reaching this resolution.”
For its part, U.S. officials who investigated that case said that no one involved in the payments work for Las Vegas Sands anymore. The payments were made in 2006, so the US authorities see the case resolved and gave the casino company a clean bill of health.
FBI Spokesman on 2006 Payments
A government spokesman said of the 2006 incident, “Certain Sands executives knowingly and willfully failed to…adequately ensure the legitimacy of payments.”
Las Vegas Sands “continued to make payments to the consultant, despite warnings from its finance staff and an outside auditor that the business consultant had failed to account for portions of these funds.”
In fact, the LVS accountant who brought the payments to the attention of Sands executives eventually was fired, which is another reason for the fines being assessed.
Purpose of 2011 Probes
The SEC and Justice Department launched their 2011 probes to determine what kind of compensation Las Vegas Sands offered to become a major casino operator in Macau. SEC and DOJ Officials seemed to believe that the $60 million in payments and the purchase of a Chinese basketball team appeared to US officials to be the price of becoming a big player in the former Portuguese colony’s burgeoning casino industry.
Whether the 2011 probes were investigating real bribes or not is a matter up for debate, but cases of corruption in international financial deals have gotten increased attention in recent years, due to groups like Wikileaks and Anonymous seeking to expose the truth. The Panama Papers were a case where an international newspaper syndicate tried to expose the hidden financial practices of the global business, finance, and political elite.
In 2012, the PBS documentary show, Frontline, featured a film called “Black Money“, which dealt with the subject. Frontline’s Lowell Bergman highlighted bribery cases involving British defence company BAE Systems, German electronics and telecoms giant Siemens, and US oil firm Halliburton. Bergman showed attempts by the US Justice Department and Britain’s Serious Fraud Office to uncover wrongdoing, while also putting into perspective the damage caused by corruption in global business.
Las Vegas Sands’s China Operations
Las Vegas Sands’s lucrative investments in Macau transformed Sheldon Adelson’s company from a second-tier Las Vegas Strip developer into the world’s largest land-based casino company. The Venetian Macau is Asia’s biggest casino, while at its height, Macau made 7 times more in gaming revenues than Las Vegas every year.
The Chinese operations transformed Sheldon Adelson into the world’s 8th-richest person by 2014. That newfound mega-wealth in turn allowed Sheldon Adelson to become a major force in American and Israeli politics. In the United States, Adelson contributed $100 million in the 2012 US presidential election, making him the single-largest contributer that year. In Israel, Sheldon Adelson owns a right-wing newspaper with the largest circulation in the country.